Church Suicide, Part 3


Suicide strikes … AGAIN!

This may end up being the most important article some have ever read. I hope that it not only helps a few readers but that it opens the eyes of others, helps with their understanding and motivates them to help. I trust that there will be those who will actually cut it, send it to someone they care about, or send it in the bridal room.

I have written quite a bit about suicide over the past few weeks and have received some remarkable feedback. I wrote on the topic because there have been so many suicides lately and people wanted answers. If you’ve read any of the previous articles, you’ve seen some scary statistics. This topic remains heavy on my heart and remains a concern to many.

For me, it started when a man whom a dear friend had interacted with was found in his prison cell with a cable TV cord around his neck. Then another friend who led a Bible study took his own life. Within days, this was followed by the suicide of another man who, along with his spouse, had prayed and comforted the previous friend’s wife.

On Saturday, I arranged a wedding 2 hours away. Amazingly, on Sunday, the bride’s father took his own life.

My mind is rolled as I write.

Suicide has a frightening air of finality. Filled with hopelessness, despair and tragedy, it is a word we would like to keep at arms length. As a whole, society tends to look down the nose at anyone who will commit this gross act. We call them selfish, cowardly … I must admit, after seeing the beautiful young bride and her effervescent husband on Saturday, and preparing to begin their lives together, if her father was alive in front of me now, I would have hard to refrain from knocking the thunder out of him. How could he do that to his precious daughter?

But I remember the day about 15 years ago that suicide entered my mind in a different way. I had just lost my job at a Dallas advertising agency, and my wife left me and took our children with me. For the first time in my life, I was all alone on a Thanksgiving, too broke to attend any family gathering that took place across the country. Our church friends had chosen sides quickly and had avoided your real ones. It was Thanksgiving Eve, sleet and raining, about 16 below zero with the wind chill. I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a mobile home, where my whole world was apparently in wrinkles all around me. I remember waking up to the swirling sound of ball bearings rolling around in the oven, which was now blasting out cold air. I was dizzy, disoriented, freezing to death in my sleep, I think. Taking my own life with the razor-sharp meat that was smart in the kitchen was the most natural thought in the world for me. I formulated a plan to split my wrists, crawl back on my mattress and let them find me in the spring. Really, I experienced the darkest hour of my soul.

But God stepped in. The atmosphere was charged as it does when a fresh puppy runs into a room or a bunch of kids run through an open screen door to get a drink from the kitchen sink on a hot summer day. “Joy comes in the morning” suddenly repeated through my mind. I bundled up and made it through the night, only to be woken up the next day by an astonishing crash as an ice layer melted and slipped out of the metal roof of the frozen ground. I looked outside, and the sun was sparkling over the melting ice everywhere.

Life gradually got better. Incredibly better. Today I would not trade mine for the whole world.

The truth is I discovered another possibility of suicide. I found it in the Bible, God’s love letter to humanity. Do you know … the ever-best-selling book most Christians rarely read? The good news about the current depression that some may be feeling in this moment is that God really has a plan for your life – a plan that can only be fulfilled when we surrender everything to Him. Listen, there is a purpose to your life; a reason for your existence. Your current, grim, emotional and spiritual state may be the very springboard you need to find out how valuable you are to him, how your life can be transformed and how others can be saved by you.

Huge times do NOT last. Hard people do!

Maybe you’ve been asking yourself, “How did I get to this point?” The answer? Gradually, drops of water will slowly but surley fill a bucket. Everyone goes through periods of their lives when they are feeling down. With time, sadness leaves and life goes on. However, there are times when tough times, a strained relationship or some other problem leads to unhappiness that keeps us in bondage. When that happens, life can become a daily struggle with turmoil, gloom and emptiness. Ultimately, hopelessness can grab hold and create a sense of dissatisfaction with everything.

Depression is often associated with a feeling of loss that can come with illness, the death of a loved one, sudden unemployment, divorce and so on. A chronic illness or permanent disability can rob one’s independence and make them feel worthless, helpless and angry. Losing someone you care about through death or divorce can leave a huge void.

Guilt is another trigger for depression. Maybe you are struggling with substance abuse or another addiction or have made some really bad choices that you are ashamed of that are about to be revealed. A childhood trauma may have left you feeling hurt and unworthy of God’s love and acceptance. Maybe you feel like a failure because you haven’t achieved everything you wanted in life.

Whatever the cause, depression often leads to a feeling of hopelessness. You may feel like you are at the end of your rope. You may think that ending your life is the only way to take control.

Believe me, it’s not.

What’s next?

The answer is simple. REALLY simple. You can go on with life as usual by knowing where it can lead or you can have a life. I’m talking about REAL life. For some, the fact that you are still reading this shows that you want another opportunity. So here is my answer. Clear? It is my experience that there is only a real source of hope for a life of purpose, fulfillment and joy.

That source has a name … it’s Jesus Christ.

It is my firm claim that Jesus is the answer to every problem that humanity knows. For those who are still with me, it’s either absolute truth or it’s a lie. He said of his followers, “I am come that they may have life, and have it fully” (John 10:10). If this statement is true, the logic screams at us to quickly become his followers. We have to address the question, “If I’m not living real life, what is it?” Through a genuine, experiential relationship with Jesus Christ, overflowing love, forgiveness, peace and joy can be ours. Interested? It is a promise from God found in the Bible.

And God does not lie.

Unfortunately, too often, even Christians with religion and church residency settle for a relationship with the Creator through the teachings of Christ found in Scripture.

The Guide to Overcoming

I could not mention that all the recent local suicides have been committed by the Christians. Does Jesus promise his followers a seamless life on Earth? No. He actually said, “In this life you will have many problems ….” He promised the power to face life’s trials with confidence, knowing that He will make ALL things work for our good.

By the way, the Greek word for “everyone” means EVERYTHING!

He either promised to deliver us from suffering or give us the strength to endure them according to His plan for us. Here’s the catch: putting this plan into practice requires giving our lives to Him.

While Bob Dylan sang, “We want to serve someone.” Even the atheist serves himself and trolls himself as “master” in his own life. By spiritually placing Jesus Christ on the throne of our lives, we become what the Bible calls “born again,” and we are completely transformed as we renew our minds. According to the scriptures, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, his followers. Again, this has been my expectation, and I argue, the very answer that any place needs. Your reading of this now is no accident.

Dust off the Old Bible and find the following verses: John 1:12; II Corinthians 5.17; 1 Cor 2:12; In John 5: 11-13.

Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). He’s knocking right now. Open the door.

Three keys to Vicorious Living

1) Talk to God. We call it “prayer,” but it is only conversation with God. Two-way conversation on that. So be quiet and listen sometimes.

2) Start reading the Bible. Learn the personality of the one who made, come up with all these directions to live life with power. You find that he is the friendliest person you will ever meet. Talk to him like he was your best friend.

I have IS!

3) Make yourself accountable to those who live the Christian life successfully. Like all babies, baby Chrsitians should also strive to grow to maturity. In short, we become what we surround ourselves with. Surround yourself with godly people and godly inputs.

What if you are already a Christian?

First ask yourself if you are really a Christian. The word ‘Christian’ is translated as “Little Christian.” Galatians 5:22 tells us what the fruits of the Spirit are, the evidence that the Spirit of God dwells in us. Too many people believe in themselves to be Christians simply because they believe in God. Scripture declares that “even the devil believes, and he shakes.” The truth is, unless we spend time with him, how can we even know him? What relationship works like this? Logically, Church attendance does not make a Christian more than going to McDonald’s makes one a cheeseburger. Furthermore, the church is something we ARE 24/7 (meaning: “they called”); it’s not just a place where we go.

For those who DO have a relationship with God, the enemy of our souls can make any of us feel depressed and have suicidal thoughts in a moment of weakness. So maybe a chemical imbalance. It can happen for all the same reasons mentioned above. The trials of life affect everyone, including believers in Jesus.

If the situation you are in is something you cannot change, you must know that God is the inventor of divine intervention. As hard as it may be to do, keep asking for his help and calling for prayers from other victorious Christians. Do not stop. He hears our prayers, but his perfect plan and ours are not always the same. Trust him to respond in a way that is in your best interest. It includes the possibility that He gives you the strength and peace to endure your trial rather than releasing yourself from it. He is so much more concerned about our character than our comfort. His first goal is to adapt ourselves to the image of Christ that Scripture tells us was even sent by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Jesus is really our example in every way). Some of God’s greatest response to prayer comes in the form of peace and joy amidst great adversity. You can believe he will see you through every storm in your life.

Look along these lines on these verses: Psalm 23; Psalm 28: 7; Isaiah 43: 2; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:13.

We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. As such, ask God to fill you with His Spirit to help you tackle life by His power. Scripture declares, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” The Bible is full of God’s promises to love, strengthen, heal, and guide.

The Purpose-Driven Life is a top-selling book these days. Begin reading God’s Word in a purposeful way: discovering new insights about His love for you. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead your journey and reveal truths you have never seen before. After all, he is the accomplished teacher. Accept the fact that God’s love for you is through faith, NOT through emotion.

Look at these verses and receive them from God directly to you: John 3:16; Romans 5: 8; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:10; Lament 3: 22-23.

Today’s culture detests any mention of this word, but here goes: SIN. If you want to go to victory, you must acknowledge any sin that may interfere with your relationship with God. Ask him to search your heart and map out any issues. Then confess and repent of your disobedience and receive his forgiveness. Confession means “to agree” and the converse says “to change your mind.”

Here are some verses for dealing with sin: In John 1: 9; Psalm 139: 23-24; Galatians 5: 16-25.

Help yourself to some help!

As part of the body of Christ, you may want to consult other body parts. Professional help in the form of a qualified Christian counselor has proven to be one of the best ways to fight depression and suicidal thoughts. Look in the phone book and make some calls. Ask for referrals. A good pastoral counselor can help you get a fresh perspective on your problems. Get a medical check up. Sometimes depression is caused by a chemical imbalance or other biological factor.

Seek a support group made up of like-minded believers who can serve the difficult area of ​​your life. Interacting with others facing similar challenges will help you feel less isolated.

Force yourself to do something the next time you feel down. Inactivity only aggravates depression. Here are some things to try:

Speak it out. Call a friend and open up.

Take a hike. Exercise causes blood and oxygen to circulate faster, which strengthens us. The brain produces endorphins that fight depression.

Help someone else. When you focus your attention on someone else, your own concerns become less burdensome. I often refer people to see “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams and then report to me about their findings. Don’t judge me by that; life has been saved. God can use anything.

Listen to uplifting music. Pick your favorite songs and start jammin ‘!

Here’s the good news: Whatever you’re struggling with at the moment, this will pass, too. Whatever it is you go through, you will go through it. While things can actually get worse before they get better, they will get better when you place them in the hands of God. Yes, we reap when we sow, and there can be some really harsh consequences that will come to tackle.

But whatever you do, deal with it!

Remember, “All things work together for good for those who love God and have been called according to His purpose.” Translation? God takes care of the lives of those who turn their lives over to Him.

Resist any thoughts you may have about “ending it all.” God has the uncanny ability to take what works really badly and make things really good.

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