A Sermon For Suicide Prevention Sunday

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John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Recently Jarrid Wilson, the Associate Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California took his own life. He was 30 years old. Ironically he and his wife founded an outreach called Anthem of Hope to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. On the day of his death Jarrid officiated the funeral of a Christian woman who had committed suicide, and wrote:

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.”

I am seeing a rash of obituaries of younger people that are taking their own lives. Too often I see in the obituary the phrase “died unexpectedly at home”, which I suspect speaks to suicide. In my 25 years of ministry I have had to bury several who committed suicide. In the worst case I remember the mother during visitation screaming over and over again, “My child has gone to hell. Joe is in hell”. It’s true that she said this, but it’s absolutely not true that her child is in hell.

Contrary to unBiblical religious belief suicide does not earn a direct ride to hell. This is not to say that suicide is not a sin. God came to bring us life, not death. God does not want you to waste your life. Jesus came to give LIFE, abundant LIFE, eternal LIFE. God wants us to walk with Christ enjoying LIFE, not death.

What IS And Is NOT Suicide

Suicide is not just the laying down or taking of your own life. It is the laying down of your life for yourself.

Thoughts and regrets of bad decisions that you have made – with their consequences – can lead to suicide. The Bible tells us of Judas Iscariot who, upon realizing the depth of his betrayal of Christ, the Bible says:

Matthew 27:3-5 … Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Overwhelmed with guilt with what he had done Judas committed suicide. His act was an act of punishing himself for what seemed to be an overwhelming crime. What pushed him over the edge was the equally guilty religious leaders who plotted and planned Christ’s execution. When these religious figures refused to take back the 30 pieces of silver – shrugging their shoulders at the sin – Judas saw only one way out. In desperation he punished himself by hanging.

There are other similar instances found in the Scripture. The first King of Israel – King Saul – was mortally wounded in battle. The Bible says:

1 Samuel 31:3-5 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. 4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

King Saul killed himself to avoid capture and torture, and his armor bearer did the same. And then there is the case of Ahithophel who plotted against King David. The Bible says that when his plot was discovered that Ahithophel …

2 Samuel 17:23 …. {went} home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulcher of his father.

Ahithophel didn’t want to face the consequences of what he had done. To flee prosecution and perhaps imprisonment he hung himself. In the case of Abimelech we read:

Judges 9:53-54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. 54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

He chose to end his life rather than let it be known that a woman killed him. That’s what the Bible says – take it up with God if this offends you! (said with a smile). In every case of suicide mentioned the people who committed the act felt that they had no other choice. They wanted to avoid life and its consequences – and took what they thought was the best way out.

Though the Prophet Job did not commit suicide in his misery and suffering he cried out to God, saying:

Job 6:8-9 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! 9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!

Trials and darkness can effect the best of us. Job was righteous but nevertheless prayed that God would take his life. The Prophet Jeremiah cried out in depression, saying:

Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed [be] the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. 15 Cursed [be] the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. 16 And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; 17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb [to be] always great [with me]. 18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

Jeremiah was overwhelmed with feelings of despair and hopelessness. He thought that his life was a total waste – that it would have been better that he had never been born. His ministry was unsuccessful, he felt, and his life’s work was a failure. Even the Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Paul said “we despaired of life”. Life itself had become tedious, unsatisfying, heartbreaking. And who can forget that great man Moses who, on being overwhelmed by the selfishness of the Israelites, cried out to God:

Numbers 11:14-15 … I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Depression and suicidal thoughts can come to the best of believers. No one is immune to it. No one is above it.

The Author Of Depression And Hopelessness Is The Devil

What did Jesus say?

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy ….

The thief comes to us all. The devil attacked Jesus Christ in the wilderness. The devil attacks us all. He comes in whispering things that are not true. He comes in and tells you you are worthless – you are unable – there is no help for you so you are better of dead. This is what the thief does.

Pastor Greg Laurie said:

The thief mentioned here speaks of the enemy of our soul, Satan. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But Christ has come that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. And there we have a choice. … Campus Crusade for Christ’s tract, The Four Spiritual Laws, opens with the statement, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” And that is true. On the other hand, Satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life. Now, he doesn’t really broadcast this, because he doesn’t want you to know. But what he ultimately wants to do is steal, kill, and destroy.”

I like that statement. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And that is true. On the other hand, Satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life.” The thief, that old devil, he comes whispering when bad times inevitably come. He tells us that God doesn’t love us. He tells us our lives do not matter to God. He tells us that we cannot make a difference, and tells us that it would have been better that we were never born. He is a liar. As Jesus said, “The devil is a liar and the father of the lie” (John 8:44).

God made you on purpose. Your life is not a waste. You matter, because God doesn’t make junk! The thief comes and tells you lies. What does he want to do?

to steal, and to kill, and to destroy

The devil wants to steal your joy. He wants to take your life. He wants to destroy the lives of those around you, to leave sobbing children and grieving spouses. The thief exaggerates hopelessness and minimizes hope.

The devil wants you to kill yourself, to lay your life down for yourself, and not lay it down for others. You see, to lay your life down for others is not a sin, but an act of great sacrifice.

Todd Beamer was onboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it was hijacked by terrorists September 11, 2001. Beamer recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with those on board, and then led the passengers to try and take the aircraft back. The last words recorded that he said were “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” His actions led to his death, but the plane was heroically crashed into an empty field rather than the White House, it’s intended destination.

At the end of his life a repentant Samson asked God to give him strength to (Judges 16:23-31) destroy the Philistines.

Judges 16:28 … Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines …

Samson died defeating the enemies of God. He laid down his life for another. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives for others. He said:

John 15:12-13 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

There is a nobility in laying down your life for another. The thief wants you to lay down your life for yourself. But Jesus wants us to lay down our lives for others. This is what Jesus did for us. He said:

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

God wants us to love life, to love the lives we have. He gave His life on Calvary for us because He loves us. God does not want us laying down our lives for ourselves. Does His Word not say:

You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13)

God wants us all to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). If you are a believer in Christ then …

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Lay your lives down in loving others.
Lay your lives down in loving God.
Lay your lives down in doing good.

When the thief comes remember that he is not God. He is a fallen angel and a bad leader. He wants to rob you – but God wants to bless you.

What If I Have Suicidal Thoughts?

If you have suicidal thoughts you need to share them with loved ones, with professional counselors, and with your Church leaders. Listen to me, dear Church. I have buried too many people of whom after they committed suicide someone came to me and said:

They threatened to do it – but I didn’t think they were serious.”

When the thoughts come it is a great thing to share them with the Lord. But you also need to share your hurt and depression with others. There are no easy answers to the suicide epidemic, but I guarantee you one thing:

You can’t fix it by yourself!

Often when suicidal thoughts come, we condemn ourselves. A good example of this was in the life of a great man of God named Elijah. Elijah was such a powerful Prophet that the orthodox Israelites today still set a place at the table for him during Yom Kippur or the Passover. God raised up Elijah and blessed him during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. At one point of his ministry Elijah stood alone against the false prophets that Jezebel sponsored, and, calling fire down from Heaven defeated them all (1 Kings 18). When Jezebel threatened his life Elijah ran away. But after he traveled a day into the wilderness depression struck him. The Bible says …

1 Kings 19:4 … {Elijah} requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

We are all human, and are all liable to failure. When the thief comes go to a friend. Call me. I’ll say it again, CALL ME! I like what Evangelist Billy Graham said:

Whenever someone writes to say they’re thinking about taking their own life, I wish I could sit down with them and do everything I possibly could to encourage them and persuade them not to take that final, drastic step. No matter how hard life has gotten, I know that with God there is hope.”

God does not expect you to be superhuman. God calls us to His side to be loved, and to love Him. Billy said:

Suicide is extremely serious and tragic in God’s eyes, and if someone who is reading this is contemplating suicide, I beg of you to reconsider and seek help for whatever your problem may be. God loves you—whether you believe it or not—and He does not want you to end your life. Satan does, however—and you must not listen to him.”

Let us not listen to the thief, but to Jesus Christ. He loves you so very much. He laid down His life for you so that you would not feel your life is worthless. Put your faith and hope in Jesus and in His love for you. Say NO to the thief, and yes to Him. Seek professional help. Contact a friend. If that friend does not take you seriously, contact another. Contact me. I will help. But do not take that tragic step of ending your life.

God loved you all so much that He gave His only Begotten Son for you. That doesn’t make your life worthless. Your life is precious. Remember that, regardless as to what you are feeling now, feelings and situations change (James 4:14). Go to the Lord with your feelings in prayer. Ask Him for peace. And remember – depression may be a result of a medical need. Reject the thief. Tell others.

And know you are loved!

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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