LIFE in Christ for those Left Behind
To the family, parents, and friends of one who has committed this final act I want to share God’s comfort. Such a death can bring grief that is sometimes greater than what is experienced in losing someone by natural means. Telling you that you are not alone will not help to make this easier for you. While there are many other families and friends who have experienced this same kind of loss this does not alleviate your suffering. It is a personal loss as is any loss; as if it has happened for the first time. God has given each of us a heart that feels and experiences the joys and sorrows of this life. For some, like your loved one, sorrow may have been all that they knew. Or perhaps, though a happy child, as far as you knew, he or she had influences in their life that you did not know about. One such turn of events can trigger a direction that they cannot comprehend or overcome. (We speak later of this to those whose children have tried unsuccessfully to end their life.)
If you are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, I have already addressed your position in part 1 of this article. The same Spirit of Christ that has saved you is the one who will speak to your heart through your loss. He is the one who will bring you through this tragedy to overcome your grief.
Christ is the same shepherd and provider who will bring you past any guilt that you may have. The parents of suicide victims often ask, “Why did I not know what was going on with my son or daughter?”
“Why did I not see the signs?”
Or if you did see signs, and didn’t know what to do, you may still have to live with this for a while. I say for a while, because whatever you are dealing with is part of your relationship with the Lord God, your heavenly Father; and He will enable you to overcome to the point of ministering in His name through this tragedy.
The actions of those who take their own life affect the lives of those they leave behind. Their thinking can poison your thinking. Satan can use the death of others to damage our own lives; to distract and take our eyes off God’s plan and goal for us.
With so many deaths recently, either by suicide or cancer, my focus on God and my other writings have been threatened; and these were not personal family or friends.
Lee felt badly when she heard about her friend; she had planned to call and get together with her last week, but had not been able to. I felt guilt from what I thought I could have done for our neighbor’s son.
In all my thinking and praying I realized that we are not God, and we are not responsible for what others do to themselves or to us. Even when we have done all we can, some cannot be reached so as to stop their torment and desperation.
It is important to remember that even when we cannot see His plan God is working in and through every circumstance in the lives of His children and in the whole world, all to His own glory. We will have to wait until that time in glory with Him to understand how all this works; but then when we see Him face to face, all these matters will fade into the background of His glory.
Again, I point to the need of keeping our focus on God, our heavenly Father, who through Christ will restore balance and order in our lives as He takes us through the grieving process.
Reconciliation and Renewal
This is also a time of reconciliation and restoration in your relationship with your heavenly Father; a time of renewal in the LIFE of Christ. You may have been lax in your time with Him. Let Him restore you through meditation in His word, in prayer, and in intercession for others who have lost a loved one. Sometimes the best way to get through the grieving process is to realize that there are others who are grieving, even other family members and friends of your own child or spouse.
Getting through grief is not meant to be in a hurry, but gradually, with your goal of overcoming in mind, and eventually in sight, you walk hand in hand with the Lord as He brings you through. (See Grace for Grief and The Path of Grief)
Praising During the Grief
Praise is due to God at all times, but not natural during the grieving process. It is a supernatural trait of God’s children to be able to praise Him in the middle of crisis.
It is, however, his will for us, as we continue to trust Him in all things. It is in response, not to the tragedy, but to His love, presence and power with us during, and afterward.
Whatever man does or doesn’t do, God is still sovereign. He is still God, and His word does not change because of the events in this life. It is His truth that enables us to go on, when otherwise we would be where our loved ones were when they opted out. Remember, it is the gift of God’s grace that has given us the faith to overcome.
We cannot lose our faith, but it always tested; and we can expect this gift of faith to be strengthened during such times as these.
Again, I use God’s words to Jeremiah for all times. Expect and trust that through the darkest times in your life He waits to be gracious to you.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3
You are God’s Witness in Your Loss
As one who has LIFE in Christ you have a hope that your loved one did not have. Satan cannot take this away from you. Your heavenly Father wants to show through you who He is, and what He does in times like these. Draw near to Him. He is the God of all comfort, love, joy, and peace; so that you, in time, will be able to comfort others.
You may be God’s servant and witness, ready and able to help that one who may be seeking Christ in his or her desperation. As your own faith is strengthened through your tragedy you may be the one whom God has prepared to lead them to Christ and LIFE.
For Those Who Have Been Threatened
Since beginning this article I have been reminded that all attempts at suicide are not successful. What does a parent or spouse do in response to their child or spouse who has tried to kill him/herself? This depends on what you have experienced in your relationship with them before this happened? Is there a pattern?
Has your child or spouse been rebellious, unhappy, miserable and critical in their relationship with others and their circumstances? Are they selfish in their nature toward you and others? Are they vindictive? Have they threatened in other ways?
If this is their normal way of life the attempt could be a means of keeping you under their control, of threatening your own state of mind and health.
We don’t like to think that others have had a greater influence over our children than we have; but we must remember that the antithesis began in the Garden. Satan, in rebellion stole the hearts of our first parents, God’s children. He is still working today in the sinful nature of man, by a supernatural power, in the minds and hearts of those who have yet to be born of the supernatural Spirit of Christ. Even we who are in Christ cannot escape a culture that supports all these influences. We must be on guard for our children and ourselves in the spiritual warfare that we face daily.
When we release our children into the world everyday for fifteen or more years their lives are going to be conformed to what they see and hear. We have no idea what they are taking in from the process of public education, the media or personal relationships. Our only defense for our children is spoken of in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4. Even in obedience to these we may not realize the temptations that overtake our children.
Sometimes it seems that the very airwaves are filled with the enemy’s sights and sounds. The music that is promoted and rings through our atmosphere permeates the sensitive minds and spirits of our children. Even the music that has lyrics pertaining to God coincides with the music of the world. We’re not always alert and aware of the words. The music itself connects with our spirit; and we do not know the power of it. If you try to take it away you will see how much influence it has. Our children are brought up with it and will die with it if their hearts are not changed. Most of the literature, the music, the games, the videos, and the movies out there promote death. The occult is gradually becoming very popular. Even the subtlety of it is bringing many children into it; and what does it promote but death?
If they have been on drugs they are susceptible to mood changes; and many are unable to think rationally.
If we know God’s word; if we know the truth; we know that Satan waits to devour our children and us. He is the god of the world and works to destroy all that God has created for His own. We also know that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. His death was not in vain. The new heart that we receive through His suffering and sacrifice gives the new LIFE to us with the power of His Spirit for the things of God.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Love and Support
You must do all that you can to show your love and support; but eventually, you may need to seek help for your child. You must give your loved one up to the Lord; seeking His wisdom and grace. You must, in Christ, maintain your own strength; and by your own peace and joy let your child or spouse know that they cannot take away from you what Christ has given. You can pray for them and with them to know the love of Christ; but if they continue in this desire to end it all you will not be able to stop them. You will experience grief, but you will not need to carry a weight of guilt.
You may wonder what you could have done differently with your child or spouse, but at a certain stage you have to let go, believing that you have done the best that you could. If you have regrets, confess these to the Lord, ask forgiveness, and rest in His grace to continue on; looking always in the future for His wisdom and guidance in your life; and the ability to help them whenever you can.
Reactions to Major Disappointments
If they have never shown any of the above signs, but have had a major disappointment in their life, their attempt may just be a sign that they need extra help to get them through this time. They will need your special attention; to be assured of your love and encouragement. Spend time in prayer and devotions with them. You will not always be with your children during the difficult times in their lives, but this will be an example of how they will personally deal with them and get through them in the future. As we spoke in the first part of this article about being alone and depressed, you can be aware of these times, engaging your child or spouse in conversation or activity. Be a sounding board, if that is what they need. Be aware of their withdrawal and separation from you and the rest of the family. Follow up with whatever means you have.
Have they been grounded in the truth of God’s word? Are you? This may be the time that you can be united in Christ through a joint search for His truths. A daily time in God’s word, for study, meditation and prayer is needful for a foundation that cannot be shaken in crisis. Memorization is important, too. The truths of God’s word written on the mind, and hidden in the heart, are the power and authority that speak when we need faith, assurance and deliverance.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
To Loved Ones Without Christ
I would say the same thing to you that I said to someone who is desperate and considering suicide. There is comfort for you, too, in Christ. According to His word, He does not operate apart from His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given everything that we need that we may know Him, and receive all the blessings that He has prepared for those that love Him.
I pray that as read this you may consider what I have written in this entire article, concerning LIFE, true LIFE in Christ.
The Bible teaches that all things were created by and through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead. Colossians 1 says that all things were made through Him; that all things consist in Him; and that in Him God chose that all His fullness should dwell. In John 1 we read that of His fullness we all receive grace for grace. In Ephesians 1 the church is His body, the fullness of Him, who fills all in all.
Ephesians 1:11 says that in God’s timing He will bring everything on this earth to an end; to a gathering of all His people in Christ, where all believers will live and reign with Him forever in His kingdom. In all this we see that God has made Christ the beginning, the center, and the end of all things. All true life, from the beginning to the end, is dependent on Christ. God makes this clear to those who read and believe and submit to His truth of Christ. The Holy Spirit supernaturally gives a new heart so that we can believe; and by His own goodness to turn us in faith and repentance to Him. He leads us to seek His will for us through His word, The Holy Bible, to have communion and fellowship with Him and Christ through prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper with fellow believers in a local church.
Through this tragedy in your life God may be drawing you to Himself. As He has said throughout the ages to all believers, “This is my Son, Hear Him.”
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
1 John 5:10-12
Again, I pray for all who read this, that God may speak to your heart, and give you His peace that passes understanding, that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting:
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
Dear heavenly Father, we end this article in praise to You for creating us in Your image. Having fallen short of the standard and the mark that you had set for us You came in the form of man to redeem us, and reconcile us to Yourself. Looking back over so many years I can see the paths that you have brought me through by Your own grace. Had it not been for Your presence, Your power, Your protection; Your provisions for LIFE in Christ I would not be here today. But in Your plans; through Your love, You now hear my prayer for those who read my witness of You, Your Son, Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit. Hear our prayer, dear Lord, and save these who are in the snare of the devil. Give them a new heart and a new spirit ~ new LIFE in Christ ~ for living in this wilderness until You call them home.
Please hear the cries of these loved ones and walk through this valley with them; by Your light and Holy Spirit bring them out; so as to witness and minister to others in need.
To You be glory, and honor and power. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen