I got an e-mail the other day saying that my lifelong friend had committed suicide. He was a believer, but clearly must have been in a terrible personal crisis. Nobody had any idea, but now that I think of it, he probably never got over his big brother’s death 30 years ago. Not that any of us have gotten over that, either, but I think it affected Jim more profoundly than any of us had realized. Looking back, I realize that’s probably why he drank. I don’t remember him drinking to excess before Nick died. And I think he just always felt inferior to Nick because Nick was loved by everyone.
I loved Jim, and even if I had never thought this through before, I know that I did show him lots of love. My whole family did. He often called my parents just to talk. But I think that some wounds are just too deep for ordinary human love to heal. But he had turned to drink instead of to God for comfort.
One thing I was led to do was to forgive him this last sin—after all, suicide is the sin you can’t repent from. So I forgave him because Jesus said that the sins we forgive will be forgiven (John 20:22-23). I think that it doesn’t occur to most people to forgive suicides. After all, it’s such a selfish act that leaves everyone you love feeling beaten and broken and confused.
I am reading “Pursuing Holiness” by Jerry Bridges © 2006, Navpress. Jim’s suicide proves to me that we can’t afford to simply rest in the holiness Jesus gave us when we called to Him. We’ve got to work on ourselves. And it occurred to me today that even though Jesus did the work of salvation long ago, our personal salvation required our cooperation (i.e., confession, repentance, and baptism). So it makes sense that our spiritual walk requires us to continue to surrender, cooperate, and yield to God as He molds us into the kind of vessels that He can use. As with anything worthwhile in this life, you get out of it whatever you put into it. Jesus said that troubles come to us all, but if we’re close to Him, He shields us from things that could potentially destroy us.
Thanks for letting me ramble. This is just so hard! But God is still good! Please pray for Jim’s wife, children, mother, and sisters.