Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ending It All?

  • More males than females "succeed" at suicide, by a ratio of 4 to 1.

  • Suicide has been reported as the second leading cause of death among teenagers.

  • It appears that about one in three teen aged suicides is by a gay or lesbian.

  • Followers of religions that strongly prohibit suicide, like Christianity and Islam, have a higher suicide rate than those religions which have no strong prohibition.

This blog post has been born out of three different experiences. Firstly my friend Brogan (from South Africa) and I have both been thinking along parallel lines on this. Secondly I was upset to hear of one of the members of City Church International in Hong Kong taking his own life - announced here (he had suffered beyond belief for years). Thirdly;

I had an unusual experience today when I was out running. I'd done a longer run on Friday night and was aching a bit so was finding it quite tough going. I put on my "gym playlist" and suddenly without warning found I was listening to "Heroes" - originally sang by Mariah Carey but this version was sang by the X-Factor finalists of 2008. And I heard this phrase in the song that stuck;

"Hold on until tomorrow - in time you'll find a way".

And I felt a massive emotional stirring for those who have taken their own lives or those who have been so close to taking their own lives. I have never heard suicide be addressed in any other terms but shock, disapproval and downright condemnation. Some Christians even suggest that if you take your own life then you are guilty of murder and may not even go to heaven. This of course is another blatent example of the legalistic wing of the church's ability to categorise and put sin on pedestals.

And the ironic thing is that I suspect that the final thought going through the one taking his/her own life is that they know that the church will tut, shake it's head and disapprove ... again.

So in this post - I want to speak to the potential suicidal. And then to the legalistic church.

1. To the one planning to take their own life.

If you have dealt with suicidal thoughts then you will be extremely sensitive to anyone trying to speak to you. "You don't know what I'm going through" - will probably going through your mind. And you are right. I don't know specifically what you are going through. But I DO know what it is like to carry the weight of considering whether or not to take your own life. I've been thinking about that for a number of years since I lived in Bristol. I still have a packet of pills in my bedroom that I never touch - earmarked for my use should I need it. Can I say I will never take my own life? No, I can't promise that. So please - I do know something of what it is like to consider suicide. BUT! That doesn't stop me trying to think through ways out.

So there is a very simple principle that needs to be totally and utterly demolished. Rob Rufus said this;

"The law addresses your behaviour. Grace addresses your heart. If your effort got you there, then your effort must keep you there. If grace got you there, then grace will keep you there".

There's so much I could say but I know that your time may be limited. I could baffle you with theological arguments and persuasions or even threats but you know them all. What you essentially want to know is surely why you should bother carrying on another day but secondly what will happen if you do pull that trigger, or take those pills or start that car. The question you need answering is why you should bother living another day. The song "Heroes" pleads; "Hold on - there will be tomorrow - in time you will find a way!". But I know you are answering that; "I can't hold on - I can't face tomorrow and I have tried and failed to find a way".

Listen to the best piece of good news in the world - 2 Corinthians 5:19;

" ... namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation".

There are the two greatest pieces of good news in the world here. And if you can dare to allow yourself to believe this, I guarantee it will do more to dispel your depression and maybe just maybe give you cause to live again.

1. God has reconciled YOU to HIM - permamently and forever and nothing and no one can take that away. No sin can remove that reconciliation. Let's get specific. You will hear the Church perhaps tell you that no sin can take that reconciliation away. You like me may suspect that they mean lying or a tendancy to pride or jealousy. Or maybe even lust as long as you read Joshua Harris's book. But what about if you have been a prostitute? Or what about if you have murdered someone? What about if you are gay and in an active relationship with someone? What about if you are a paedophile? What about if you have been a pagan and practiced witchcraft? But we must persist in allowing the Word of God and the promises of God to be consistent. God has reconciled you to Himself no matter what you have done. That must mean;

2. God is NOT counting your sins against you! I don't know what sins are worrying you. But let's talk about one I can bet we all have considered. You may have been told that if you commit suicide and take your own life then you will go to hell. The argument is that if you take your own life then you cannot ask forgiveness for the sin of murder therefore you are condemned to hell. No disrespect to anyone who says this but they are lying. If the forgiveness of your sin depends on the quantity, timing and appropriateness of you "confessing" such sin then Jesus Christ's sacrifice and blood shed on the Cross was conditional.

So what about the pseudo-threats of the Church that if you take your own life then you will go to hell? Well for that to happen, suicide must be too great a sin for Jesus Christ's death and sacrifice to cover. To suggest so is complete and utter blasphemy. Therefore if you have committed your life to Jesus Christ and accepted freely the gift of His righteousness then (let me say this slowly);

If .... you .... commit .... suicide .... you .... will ..... still .... go .... to .... heaven.

Do I want you to still go through with this? No of course I don't! I don't know you or your situation but I do believe earnestly that God has great schemes in store for you - if you will give Him a chance then you will see He has good plans for you - plans to give you a future and a hope. But I say again - if you do feel that you have absolutely no option but to take your own life then you absolutely will go to heaven and you will see the face of God. You may ask what will your arrival in heaven be like? Will you be saved "as though by fire"? Well I can't say for sure because I haven't yet taken my own life and been there. But I think I can say what I believe would happen.

When I was out running listening to the song "Heroes" I had a powerful experience and I felt as though I was sharing the experience of someone who was dying and closing their eyes and awaking in glory. The first thing I was aware of was the face of God and I looked eagerly although scared to see if there was disappointment or worse anger. What I saw was an overwhelming empathy. How foolish to not realise that God Himself knows every pain, every agony, every torment that we - His creation - go through! He knew. And He understood. And He loved. And He forgave freely just as He has always forgiven freely since Calvary.

Well I haven't said anything to stop you taking the pills or pulling the trigger - you may say. That's true. I never promised all the answers. All I promised was that I know what you are going through. And I am on a voyage of discovery and my discoveries so far show that God really wants us to live and enjoy each day so that He can unfold revelations of His love and passion for us and show us that He has gladly reconciled Himself to us and He is NOT counting our sins against us!

2. To the Church family wanting to support the suicidal.

I have got nothing to say to the legalistic church who despise the suicidal as "weak" and taking the "easy way out". You have blood on your hands. If God is not holding the sins of the suicidal against them - then what gives YOU the right to hold their sins against them? "If God is for (them) then who can be against (them)?". It is the condemnation that you are placing upon those struggling souls that is a major factor in driving them to end their lives. I hope that the gospel of grace will wake you up one day and realise what you are doing.

I want to speak to the church family (like City Church International in Hong Kong) who REALLY want to help the suicidal among them and REALLY care and love and long for them to find "a future and a hope". I must urge anyone who really wants to look into this to listen to Rob Rufus's two messages - "Announcement about Barry Summers" and "The Glory of Tested Faith (Part 2)Enduring Hardships". Rob's compassion and love for both Barry (the guy who took his own life) and the church is incredible. Rob speaks about clipping Barry around the ear when they next meet in glory but he speaks passionately to the church to prevent them from feeling they "could have done more".

So what can the church do to help? I believe it is quite simple. One of my favourite Stuart Townend songs is "The Resurrection Hymn" with the verse;

"See Mary weeping, 'Where is He laid?' As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb; Hears a voice speaking, calling her name; It's the Master, the Lord raised to life again! The voice that spans the years, Speaking life, stirring hope, Bringing peace to us, Will sound till He appears, For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!".

The church has been so eager to defend doctrine especially the doctrine of the Cross in recent years - and there is nothing wrong with that. But an over-emphasis on the doctrine glosses over the fact that He died 2,000 years ago but HE NOW LIVES!! And He doesn't just live but He lives "to intercede for us". He is alive and He is busily active! Church ministries need to make every effort to remind the church that He is alive, He is active and He does speak!

Even some so-called reformed charismatic churches allow for prophecy in their midst but seem to forget the point of prophecy. Jesus Christ is SPEAKING TO HIS BRIDE! When He intervenes in divine and miraculous healing it is a touch of love! One of the things John MacArthur said that made me so angry was to write in his commentary that Jesus only healed in the New Testament "for a purpose". What he meant was that each miracle was to achieve or prove something. There was no suggestion in the commentary about the difference that the healing would make to the person themselves. The woman bowed over for 18 years was healed and the first thing she saw was Jesus Christ's face - full of love!

The suicidal man or woman needs to hear Jesus Christ speaking to them for themselves. They need to hear the words of love that our heavenly Bridegroom is speaking to them! And the church is the place where that can happen. They need to be in a family who love, welcome and appreciate them. They need to be in a family that assure them that their salvation is secure and even if they do end it, they will still go to heaven. They need to be in a family that gather together eagerly to EXPECT the voice of Jesus Christ to resound through the body.

I can recall some of the prophecies that have changed my life because the prophet heard Jesus speak and relayed the message.

1. Terry Virgo Prophesies at Brighton Leaders Conference 2003 - "Resurrection!".

2. Terry Virgo Prophesies at Together on a Mission 2006 - "Embrace change!".

3. Terry Virgo Prophesies at Together on a Mission 2006 - "Eavesdropping on My plans!".

4. Terry Virgo Prophesies at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000 - "This is Dancing Ground!".

And they are just a few! Each prophecy made me cry, laugh, shake and tremble. But the one resounding thing about each prophecy was that it made me more convinced that I have ever been more sure that JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE!

In closing I mentioned that I have a pack of pills in my bedroom that I keep ... just in case. When heaven seems silent and Jesus Christ might as well still be hanging on the Cross - that is when I feel low, depressed and that life is without purpose. When the prophetic is flowing, when I can hear Him speaking and talking - that is when I want nothing less than to end my life. A dear blogging friend - Jamie - summed up suicide excellently - I will let her close;

"Suicide: sad choice for our earth suit but that's about it. :)".


jul said...

Dan, this is excellent. I especially appreciate you strongly affirming that anyone in Christ will most definately go to heaven, regardless of whether or not they choose suicide. When will the church stop heaping shame on miserable people?

I love that scene in Luther where he takes the boy who hung himself and digs the grave in the church cemetary in front of everyone saying "God must be mercy!"

Also thought it was an interesting point that suicide rates are higher in religions that condemn it most strongly, the same is true of alcoholism rates...the law really is powerless to change us, our message must be grace and grace alone!

lydia said...

Dan, my very brave friend, this was an excellent post!! People need to hear what you have shared here. You are bringing truth and hope to many I am sure!!
God is not counting ANY sins against anyone, he has dealt with sin once for all. I think the only concern about sin God has anymore is how our sins will hurt us. It doesn't affect him or seperate us from him one bit! After all Jesus cried "It is finished!!"
One thing I would say to those who are feeling as if they can't go on and suicide is a very real and possible decision for you- I honestly can't imagine your pain right now, but hang in there if you can, as the song said, hold on to tomorrow because Jesus death was for every person, and for the WHOLE person, for our body, soul and spirit and he promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind their wounds. And His mercies are indeed new every morning. You can cry out to him and he will hear you - he will never leave you or forsake you. He loves you with an unfailing love!!!
My heart hurts right along with anyone who feels so desperate they can't go on, that kind of pain is indeed overwhelming..............I pray you find the God of all hope will deliver you!! Peace to all who read here!!