Conducting a funeral of a Suicide Victim this week has pushed me into some deep reflection about eternity and the soul. I thought it may benefit to share with you a few thoughts that I shared at the funeral yesterday. This is my perspective as of today. It does not mean it is yours or CCF’s. (I am indebted to Phil Kniss here):
At times of great pain, words from people fail us, they are just not enough. They basically feel like they fix NOTHING! Many of us who are persons of faith flee to the words of scripture. We go to the Bible to look for comfort for the pain, we look for answers to our questions, and we look for words to shed light into the places where we can’t see.
But friends, if we go to the well of scriptures, trying to draw up words that will explain all of this to our satisfaction, we will likely come up empty. If we turn to God, asking for a detailed explanation as to why this had to happen, we’re not going to get an answer with the kind of clarity we want. If we go to the scriptures, asking for words that will make sense of this for us, I am afraid we are just going to walk away disappointed. You see, I think there are questions on all of our minds that we wish we could have answered clearly, definitively, and finally, by God. But the Bible is not the kind of answer-book that we used to have in school, where the answers to all the questions we are being tested on are printed neatly in the back of the book…true, false, A. B. C., all of the above. That’s just not how it works….as much as I wish I could tell you it was.
But you know, I think that’s alright. Because I think that most of the questions being asked by those who lose someone they love in a tragic way, are not questions that can be satisfied with straight answers. They are not questions that can be answered through some logical, rational process. They are not questions of the mind, they are questions of the heart.
I would like to share some of those words of scripture to the heart. And I encourage you to listen to them with your heart. Romans 8 says “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...No!!... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither heights nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When people we love die, they are separated from us. But, God’s love is constant and continuous, even across the divide that separates life from death. We may want to know why God didn’t step in and rescue our loved one. That answer we won’t find in the scriptures, or anywhere else.
But, here are some more words for the heart…."The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” This is just one of hundreds I could have chosen from the scripture, that speak eloquently about the mercy of God. God is all about mercy.
Perhaps some of the unspoken questions of people hearts, especially in situations of suicide are about the state of a loved one’s soul. There are some Christians who might sometime suggest that suicide is the ultimate sin. I disagree. The wages of (all) sin is death!!! But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! And friends, God’s grace is far bigger than we will ever know. And at the end of the day he calls the shots and knows all hearts! Period. Who of us decides which sin automatically sends you to hell? Who of us is without sin? How often do we need to ask forgiveness? Some would need to 30 times a day. If they die between sin #15 and #20 without stopping and asking forgiveness, do they go to hell? These may seem like silly questions to you…but do any of us really understand grace?
The scriptures abound in descriptions of God as being one who is full of mercy. In fact, the Bible says that God’s judgment lasts for 3 or 4 generations, but God’s mercy is for a thousand generations. Scriptures also tell us that “God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And in another place, “Human beings look on the outside, God looks at the heart.” And in yet another place in scripture, these wise and poetic words are spoken: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”
I am not a judge of hearts. That is the responsibility of God and God alone. Bottom line: WE do not decide on eternity by judging actions, GOD decides on eternity by judging hearts!
(I am thankful that Steve made a commitment to Jesus as a Teenager.)