If you are reading this article you fall into at least one of three categories. The first includes those who know those who have—successfully or not—attempted to take their life. The second category includes those who will eventually know someone like that. The third category includes those who are contemplating suicide.
Rather than address those in the first two categories I will speak directly with you if you find yourself in the third. Be assured that there a plenty of people in the first two categories who will read this because they care enough to help people like you through this seemingly impossible situation.
Have you had thoughts of suicide? Why are you considering it? Do you face shame because you (or someone close to you) has done things that have created a mess that you are unwilling to face? Maybe you are enduring the pain of a broken body or a broken relationship and do not wish to see what is next in an apparent endless downward spiral. Or perhaps you are very angry at a person or persons who have hurt you and know that this will sting them in ways other forms of revenge never could. You may even have your own reasons and think that your circumstances put you in a category no other person can understand.
If you have had these thoughts, you have likely gone from despair to hope and back again more times than you can count. People stereotype those who take their lives as frenzied and impulsive, but you may know that after numerous crises many people have soberly weighed their options. They have reasoned that suicide is as much a rational choice as buying a red car instead of a blue one.
Because this is a Christian author writing about matters from a biblical perspective you might think an article about suicide would seek to find biblical texts that address the issue directly. But that is not where this article is headed. Certainly there are a few examples of suicide in the Bible and I do agree that taking your own life is no less a sin than taking that of someone else. But I want you to see a bigger picture from the Bible. I beg you to stop and reconsider. The story of history is not about your present circumstances but about redemption.
I’ll explain what I mean by redemption. When you look at the whole story of human history from a biblical standpoint you see three big themes. The first is that creation was a marvelous, hopeful work of God with man as the most privileged creature in the picture. The second is the misery that resulted from man rebelling against his creator. The third is the work of redemption that the creator is bringing. Our trouble is that living in the pain, misery and hopelessness of the second theme can blind us to seeing the third theme at work.
Let me illustrate simply. A child with a painful ear infection does not naturally want a physician poking instruments in his ear or prescribing yucky medicine. But the doctor sees the big picture. What would you tell the child who is so intent on getting away from the treatment and the doctor that he misses the “redemptive” benefit of both? The doctor knows how the ear is designed to look and work as well as what needs to happen to bring it back to full function. The child naturally just wants the pain to go away.
Maybe that’s what you are looking for. I want you to know that there are things much more wonderful in this story than what you feel in this very brief moment of eternity. Christian author C.S. Lewis describes our longings this way:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity)
The pain and dissatisfaction you feel is a reminder that there is something better, but the release does not come when you leave. It comes when you believe. The Bible says that “creation was subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20) but it also says that the creation will be “set free from its slavery to corruption” (Romans 8:21). You may think that what you are considering will set you free. I ask you to consider that you may be very wrong and there will be no way to reverse your decision.
We make the mistake of complicating the Bible because we often have personal agendas that we take into it. We assume that if we cannot find a direct prohibition, for instance, for the use of methamphetamines, God must be okay with it. But the Bible projects a larger and more authoritative view of the past and the future that those of us trapped in time would do well to heed. You may be asking how a loving God could allow so much evil in the world—particularly in your world. You ask why is this happening if God is loving or sovereign. That is a legitimate question. Have you given Him time to answer it? Are you sure?
Imagine the terror of people experiencing a full eclipse of the sun without knowing that eclipses are natural astronomical events. Some would despair of life. You could give them hope. “Just wait,” you’d counsel. This won’t last.
Most people who come close to taking their lives and do not succeed testify that what they needed was just a little time to clear their minds to dissuade them from the act. In other words, because they had a barrier to their momentum toward the act they reevaluated the decision. Let the thoughts I have shared be that barrier for you.
Start here. Are guilt and shame and pain and hopelessness recurring themes in your life? Please stop and consider that the Bible points to Jesus Christ as the remedy for these things. He absorbed in His body—as a substitute—the just death penalty so those who trust Him could be free. If that is hard for you to believe, it gets harder. For centuries men and women have staked their lives and their eternal destinies on the truth that Jesus also came physically out of the grave after He died. What does that mean for you? Among other things it may mean that you could be preparing to surrender to shame and death when God’s Son won the victory over both. I wonder if you have really cried out to Him and begged Him for forgiveness and new life in this world.