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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Today I had the opportunity to do a funeral for a woman who committed suicide– which wasn’t easy. I went ahead and named the elephant in the room, and here’s what I did. I’d like to hear other thoughts– especially from pastors. I’d love to hear how other people have handled this situation.

Psalm 139:1-16, Romans 8:29-38

If you were to poll folks on what their favorite passages of scripture are, maybe some would tell you the 23rd Psalm. Some might mention passages from Isaiah’s book of comfort. Some might mention passages where Jesus talks about great great love.

No matter how many people you ask, no matter the answers they give, I’d bet you’d find one common element in the passages that people list as their favorite. Almost all of us choose the passages that bring us comfort; the ones that remind us of God’s nearness and care. For we are a people who needs reminding of that fact. We look around at the world, and things that we can’t understand, and we need to be reminded just how much God cares, and is a part of our world, and our very lives.

Today, we come to this place, because we are without one whom so many called beloved. The pain and sadness are real. The feelings of helplessness and hurt won’t be silenced. So we come because we need a word, a word that somehow breathes answers into the questions we don’t dare ask aloud.

We come to this place in confusion—and we want to understand. But we also come because we want to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Cheryl, and to surround ourselves with others that have loved her. The truth of the matter is that while we sit here, we don’t know what to say.

All of us sitting here are aware of the way in which Cheryl died. And many who are sitting here are wondering if one who takes their own life can ever get into God’s good graces. We realize that it’s not God’s will to take one’s life. It is after all, a very permanent solution to a rather temporary problem.

But what words do the scriptures offer us about this?

None. Not one. Nowhere in the scriptures will you find anything that damns one who has taken his or her own life. What the scriptures do offer us is a word of hope and a picture of a God whose love is so big that it draws all people to himself. We find pictures of a God who has such intimate knowledge of each of us that nothing is beyond God’s notice.
This same God who knows us better than we can know ourselves, loves us anyway.

None of us ever walked in Cheryl’s shoes. We cannot know the things she was experiencing or feeling. But we can be sure that God knew. God knows her so well, and God knows what Cheryl was undergoing.

And while she may have felt all alone, I can promise you with all the certainty that is in me that she was never alone. The God who has loved her throughout her life, held her as she died, and holds her even this day.

The God that we serve is a God who draws us close. The scriptures promise us that “Nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Death is not a friend, but is in fact an enemy. But as Paul writes in the scriptures, death is an enemy that has been overcome in Christ’s resurrection.

It’s awfully tempting to wonder if death gets the last word. But death does not. God gets the last word.

And the word is hope. The word is live. And the word is love. The word’s that hang in our ears is not the sound of weeping. It’s the sound of an Alleluia, shouted by Christ’s victory over death. It’s the sound of an Alleluia, whispered by a loving God, who simply can’t say it enough. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

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