Author: Lori Apon
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Dear precious widow to suicide,
I am very sorry for the death of your husband. I am deeply grieved with you over the choice your husband made to take his own life. For many, you were blind-sided and caught completely off-guard, unaware of the deep turmoil your husband faced bringing him to make this painful choice. For others, you fought this spiritual battle with your husband almost daily, and now the fight for him is over and a new and difficult journey begins for you.
A myriad of huge questions needing clear answers tormented me for years. Why didn’t I respond differently to his cries? Why did my husband believe the lies? Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Surrendering to the truth that God is sovereign eventually became my resting place. By faith, I continued to trust that God is good, loving, kind, wise, and all-knowing even in the midst of this unthinkable act.
It is easy to accept the fact that we have nothing to do with our own birth and existence – we did absolutely nothing and here we are experiencing life in the world today. The Bible also confirms that death is in God’s hands, “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6) or “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). But what happens when man intervenes and takes his own life? Is God in control of this as well? If God is sovereign, and He is, then suicide messes with the neatness of our thinking because suicide really is a messy topic without clear-cut answers. Since God is sovereign and did not intervene Himself into the war for my husband’s soul, how can I find comfort in this One who has sovereignly ordained such suffering?
There is a good chance that until you have experienced extreme pain and suffering in life, you have never thought much about the sovereignty of God. Most of us do not until God’s plan interrupts or disappoints ours. Even though we declare God to be God with our mouths, in our hearts we often struggle with the fact that God is God and we are not. Books have been written on the sovereignty of God covering a variety of topics – disease, natural disasters, evil, and man’s choice. For the one impacted by the loss of a loved one to suicide, the sovereignty of God over and in their choice is generally a subject to avoid. God’s sovereignty can become a wall that will push us away from God or a safe haven we run to when nothing else makes sense.
Here are 4 scriptural truths that help with the understanding and acceptance of God’s sovereignty:
1. God allows physical death, He just does and we have to come to terms with that. This may be by natural means, consequence of poor choices, through Satan who comes to “steal, kills, and destroy,” or at the hand of man but Satan doesn’t have the last victory over death.
2. We may not always understand the mind of God. Joseph’s story is one of mystery when we read that he suffered for two decades while God was at work: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive’” (Genesis 50:19-20). Over and over in scripture God reminds us that he is in control and we are not and His ways are higher than ours:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
3. God allows Satan to attack us. In the story of Job, Scripture tells us that Satan asked permission from God to attack Job and God granted his request. The response of Job is what offers the most encouragement and comfort in light of God sovereignly allowing Satan to intervene, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
Much like the story of Job, God sometimes allows Satan to work in our lives. Take Peter in the book of Luke, for example, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31) It is encouraging to note two purposes in this suffering: Jesus Christ prays for the strengthening of our faith even when Satan has access to our lives, and God will use our trial to strengthen others.
4. We live in a broken world. The dominion, rule, and ownership of the planet which God had given to Adam and Eve, along with their allegiance, transferred to Satan when they chose to know his evil. What originally belonged to God by creation rights transferred into the hands of a self-made evil one!
If humanity was to be saved, it would be because of a choice man freely made! God would not force us to come back into relationship with Himself, but He would make the way available if man would choose to come! Yes, the world was broken, but God had a plan for good.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, volunteered to become the payment to Satan for humanity’s redemption! God, through Jesus, took all sin into Himself, and paid the debt of sin Himself so that humanity could be freed from the genetic of sin! There was a way made for humanity, in very fact, to be born again!
“For Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). In effect, God declared wherever there is a person anywhere on the planet who will refuse the leadership of Satan and who will choose Me again, I will come to him, and I will receive him. Having paid the debt of sin, I will personally forgive every person who chooses Me to be his God.
The rule of choice – free will – has never been revoked. All of humanity is free to make deterministic choices about his or her own life! Deuteronomy 30:19 reminds us that the choice is ours, but encourages us to make the choice for life,
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
May you feel the presence of God as you wrestle through the subject of life and death under the sovereign hand of God.
You may never know if God appointed death or allowed Satan to bring death, but you can be confident that God is with you in the valley of the shadow of death.