Monday, May 16, 2011

Suicide, Grief, and God

Someone whom I was close with many years ago took her own life this past weekend. She leaves behind children, a husband, parents, siblings and a large extended family. Even though I have a very intimate understanding of the emotional pain that can drive a person to make that decision, I was taken by surprise because the little red-haired, freckled-face bundle of joy I picture in my memory just doesn’t equate with the despondent woman she must have become over the years. The world has lost something precious.

As I begin to process the grief of this tragic loss, my mind races to familiar scriptures. I think about Psalm 139 that tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and how she was fully known and seen by God – all her pain, fear, and hopelessness. Even if she couldn’t see him, he saw her. He couldn’t take his eyes off of his beloved child, his precious creation. He cried with her and though she never felt his arms around her, he held her tight and whispered,” I’m here.”

I think about the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 that tells us that God will go after the one lost sheep until he finds it. His love is so great for us – for her – that he will not stop UNTIL HE FINDS HER and then joyfully carries her home on his shoulders. Then he, with all of heaven, will rejoice! I wish she had been able to hear, through the drone of sadness that filled her ears, his voice calling out to her. Yet, still there is hope. Not even death can stop him from finding her and bringing her home for Jesus has forever conquered death. This parable tells me that Jesus himself cannot imagine heaven without his beloved children and his objective is to bring us home. And because Jesus never lies or fails, I expect nothing less than to see him in all his glory one day with all of creation singing his praises and worshiping at his feet. He will not rest until he brings us home.

Is she finally at peace in the presence of God? Some religious traditions say that she’s not because she committed suicide. I have decided to believe whole-heartedly that she is indeed at rest in God’s arms. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and we cannot know this side of heaven whom God’s grace has already escorted into paradise. To say that someone has or has not gone to heaven on the basis of their good or bad acts is silly human conjecture. Not one of us can earn our way. It is only by God’s grace alone that any one of us has the hope of eternal life with God. In Exodus 33:19, God tells us that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion. God decides – not us or our religious traditions or our interpretations of God’s Word. Only God is fit to make that judgment. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to release God’s grace upon the world. There is no offense that his sacrifice cannot or will not blot out. We are told in Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” We find this same promise three more times in scripture – that our sins and lawless acts he will remember no more (Hebrews 10:17). For his own sake, he remembers our sins – and hers – no more. God is love (1 John 4:16) so I must believe she is resting in love now.
My heart goes out to her children, her husband, her mom and dad, and her brothers and sister. I know from my own experience that she felt that they would understand; that they wouldn’t have wanted her to live in unbearable pain and anguish a moment longer. I pray that they will be able to know God’s comfort and grace as they begin this new existence without her and to know that the separation is only for a little while until we are all eternally reunited in God’s great throne room.

If you are considering suicide – please seek help immediately. Call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to your local hospital emergency room. I promise you, living is worth it.

About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (May 2011)

1 comment:

Common Household Mom said...

This is very difficult. I am praying for you and for the family. Thank you for being able to see through the difficulty to God's grace and unlimited love.