Posted by: Heather | January 11, 2009

suicide

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to someone who has been contemplating suicide. As I listened to this person voice their struggle, my mind went back about twenty-five years to my own struggle with the same emotions. My heart could relate with the hopelessness in their explanation. I remembered how empty and small I felt in my mid teens when suicide was a thought I struggled with sometimes daily. I was living for me, and my own powerlessness was evident. I couldn’t make myself happy. The more I tried to please myself, the worse I felt. I realize now that in essence, I was my own God. I would not have said so at the time, but my chief goal was my own happiness. The result was my own hopelessness and emptiness, as I could not control everything necessary to make me happy.

As I listened, I tried to recall what made me change. I could empathize with the emotions as though I had them yesterday, but realized I have not felt those emotions in a long time. My mind went back to a school assignment I had about the same time. We were memorizing Romans 5, 6, 7, and 8 one verse at a time. Every Friday, we would sit down and write by memory each verse starting with chapter 5 verse 1. As I went through chapter 6, I remembered contemplating the concept of being crucified with Christ, yet being alive. Not being alive myself anymore, because Christ now lives in me, so the life I live is now His. This did not seem to be a symbolic thing, but somehow a literal thing. It wasn’t that I was supposed to actually die, but somehow I was to literally trade places, my life for His. I did not understand it, but decided to put my faith in this passage and follow the instruction to yield my members to Christ as instruments of righteousness. I remember concluding that I had nothing to lose since I had seriously considered ending my life, in which case I would not be using this body any more any way. It was a rather pragmatic realization that if I was going to die anyway, I might as well give my body to Christ as the passage suggested rather than just have it rot and decay in the ground. As we did our memory work from then on that year, I would dedicate the members of my body to Christ. My hands became his hands. My feet became his feet. My eyes, heart, mind, and life became His. Soon I forgot why I was doing it, and just kept doing it daily. It has become a habit I don’t think much about. But guess what – I have not contemplated suicide since.

I have copied the text I am speaking of below in the RSV.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:1-14)

Some things to keep in mind. Baptism in this text isn’t the religious ritual we think of. At the time it was written, “baptize” (the Greek word is “baptizo”) was a trade word in the textile industry. When you dipped a cloth in dye, you were baptizing it. The effect was that the cloth was from that point on the color of the dye. It was now a new color through and through. Baptism in the Bible was a outward statement saying I want to be identified with this teaching or teacher through and through – “paint me that color” in essence. I want to be identified with this teaching. I am no longer a seeker, I am now a follower. I am not just curious, I am committed.

So being baptized into his death means I am identified with His death through and through. That death is my death. His life is now my life.

I firmly believe that God brings us to the point of suicide intentionally. We must come to the end of ourselves and then decide to die to self. Rather than living for ourselves from that point on, we now live for Him. My very life becomes His. What I hadn’t bargained on was the fact that this dying to self and living to Christ gives me access to His resurrection power in my life. I indeed do walk in newness of life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I did not jump up and shout, “I’m healed!” at this point. It actually never occurred to me until this past week to put the two together. But they do go together. I used to contemplate suicide often and very seriously + I gave my body to Christ and considered myself dead = Suicide has become a non-issue. I never even noticed it was gone. I was too busy with the stuff of life and in giving my every thought, word, and action to Christ.

Just the thoughts of a simple guy.

Pray for my dear friend that he will yield his members to Christ as dead to self and alive for God.

Craig

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Responses

  1. Our pastor is quick and persistent to remind us that platitudes in distress or grief, well intended though they be, are often not well received. True understanding and compassion is usually found in the shared experiences that we felt as deeply – sometimes ocean deeply.I for one never saw that part of your struggle back then, though I might have listened, I likely would not have been able to understand. I pray that because of your understanding, this friend will see the reason for your hope and the value that God has for them. I can’t help but recall the way God worked in my own life while reading your story. It is true that the heart of a man is as deep waters, and I guess that there aren’t exceptions, just some of us who have taken the plunge yet.I am always amazed to hear stories of His redemption – taking broken situations and turning them to Heaven’s advantage…

  2. Ryan,Your pastor is right. You were one of my closest friends at the time, but I don’t remember ever talking to anyone about it. Mel and I talked about everything, but I am pretty sure I didn’t even tell him. I knew he would mess up my plan.In my adult life, I have known two people who actually committed suicide. In both instances everyone was surprised. No one saw it coming. I think in most cases, those who are actually considering it don’t talk about it.Not to play down those who do talk about it, death is nothing to take lightly. But while I considered it and had a very workable plan, no one ever knew. We must live our lives showing God’s love to those around us. Excruciating private pain can be right next to us and we might not see it.I am not any kind of expert in this matter, just a beggar who found food.The Gospel is truly the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. Praise Him!Craig

  3. You hit it on the head Craig – we need to LOVE everyone around us. Somehow, we have to get our minds off of ourselves and esteem others more importantly – when we take the time to care, it may save an ETERNAL life. There are a couple of people I can name by name that do this naturally if only they did this in God’s love, God could do amazing things through them. The rest of us have to work hard at this…

  4. I know about this subject all to well…three years ago I went through a battle of severe depression and was suicidal for about six monthes. It was a very lonely dark time for me and you are right I had many, many thoughts but I never really spoke about them…I did tell my husband that I just didn’t want to live but he was lost about what to do or say. I did mention it to my mom and she acted like she didn’t hear me. I guess It was hard for either of them to understand and believe me I was not a pretty sight.We even went to our pastor for a bit of counseling of why I was depressed and I don’t think he saw any of the signs of suicide but they were very much there.Well I want to say God did rescue me from myself and I am so very glad He did…I can take none of the credit it… it was all of His doing. I am a better person because all that I went through and have a much closer walk with Him. He was there through it all! He never left me even when I was at my worst!.. and it was pretty bad!!I thank Him everyday when I wake up and when I lay down at night. I would have missed so much..my husband would not have a wife and my children would not have a mother and I would have never known what a Wonderful Savior I have!! He does give and take away…and He loves us through it all!!~ReneeP.sYou are right we do need to stop and listen to what others are actually saying…I know that I looked suicidal!! I was not acting right I lost 25 pounds and did not eat for over a week…I could not look others in the eyes…I just didn’t want to be here any longer…I cried all the time…through every sermon!! I couldn’t hardly pray. Yikes!! I thank God that He saw… and He knew how to help me:)

  5. ReneeGod is, indeed, faithful. He truly can supply all our needs–I’m glad that He puled you out of your depression.Interestingly, during my depressed times is when I’m most willing to listen to Him.Heather

  6. Craig,

    I’ll be praying for your friend; I’m glad the LORD used His Word to break through your own “contemplation.”

  7. Thanks Bobby,
    You know, we speak of the vicarious nature of Christ’s life on our behalf, and I don’t fully understand what that means. But through dying with Him, we live with Him. Not in an only theoretical or legal sense, but in reality that makes this life pale in comparison. I am thankful we do not have to comprehend in order to believe by faith.
    Craig


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