February 16, 2021

The Gospel and Mental Health: Suicide

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

About 18 months ago, one of our church members took her own life. In the days that followed her untimely death, many in our church grieved deeply. And we still grieve. We miss her. Personally, I miss seeing her smiling face on a Sunday and her playing the flute in the band.

Maybe you know the pain of losing someone to suicide. If you are feeling overwhelmed with grief, then know that the Lord sees your tears and is near to the brokenhearted. He comforts the afflicted.

I found this prayer from David helpful: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish” (Ps. 25:16–17).

Peculiar Pain

The saddest part about suicide is that all the pain it causes is so avoidable. Suicide is different from other kinds of death. When someone takes their own life, it’s not like they died in a car crash or some other kind of terrible accident. Instead, suicide involves the conscious decision to take one’s own life.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if many reading this will have thought of doing exactly the same. Some of us are even jealous that others had the boldness to carry it out. We feel alone. We think dark thoughts. We feel like life would be better without us. We want an escape from the misery we face on a daily basis.

As Christians, we live in a tension here on earth: We know that the life to come is going to be better than this current one. We have a permanent home, fixed for us in heaven, bought by Jesus’ precious blood. But this present world is broken, fallen, twisted, and dark. The life to come is fixed, perfect, joyful, and light.

So we long to be in heaven. Those of us who struggle with mental health yearn to be away from the pain of our minds. The question is: How do we long for the new creation without becoming suicidal? If we are struggling with depression and anxiety, does heaven give us an “out”?

Suicide is a Sin

Well, let’s be clear: Suicide is not what God wants for us. Suicide is a sin. It’s the murder of self, which is directly opposed to the sixth commandment (Ex. 20:13). It’s an extremely selfish choice. Not only that, but when someone commits suicide, they leave behind a trail of destruction. And if you are in that dark place, feeling like life would be better without you, then make sure you talk to someone you trust ASAP. Get them to pray for you. In fact, seek all the help you can get from doctors, friends, family, and most importantly from the Lord. There is help out there.

But know this as well: You have a purpose in life. Paul tells us that to “live is Christ” (Phil. 1:20). While Paul is clear that heaven is gain, and it’s far better than this life, we do have purpose while we live here on earth. We might feel like this world would be better without us and that our life is meaningless, but that’s a lie. Just talk to people who have lost someone to suicide, and I bet they’ll tell you that they miss that person terribly. The world isn’t better without them, it’s more painful.

Life Worth Living

Here is the thing you need to know, Christian, if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts: Your life is in Christ. Therefore, you have something to live for. God has a purpose for your life.

Some of you are thinking: “Well that’s easy for you to say, you don’t know what I’m feeling.” No, I don’t know what you are feeling. But the Lord does. And He has created you in his image. He has created you with a plan. He has created you with gifts. He has saved you for a purpose. There is meaning to your life, despite what you think and feel right now. There is fruitful labour that the Lord has called you to do (Phil. 1:22).

And here is the wonderful thing about the gospel: There is rest to come. One day, we won’t have suicidal thoughts. One day, we won’t struggle with depression and anxiety. One day, we won’t feel the daily pain of our mental illness.

But while we are here, we need to keep fighting for life. Keep fighting for joy. Keep battling, fixing our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ and the new creation to come. There will be a day when every tear is wiped away and we will see Jesus face to face. But for now “to live is Christ.”