(If you are 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 decision your husband made to take his own life. For many, you were blind-sided and caught completely off-guard, unaware of the intense 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 questions needing biblical 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 had nothing to do with our own birth and existence – we did nothing to create ourselves. But 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 ESV).

 “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8 ESV).

But what happens when man intervenes and takes his own life? Is God in control of this as well? Suicide and the resulting devastation are so painful and tragic that it can seem incompatible with God’s sovereignty. Bereft family and friends are left asking themselves, “If God is sovereign and good, how could He let something like this happen?”

There is a good chance that until you experienced extreme pain and suffering in life, you did not think 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.

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 six scriptural truths to help you understand, accept, and take refuge in God’s sovereignty:

  1. God is God, and God is good. These two truths must anchor our storm-tossed hearts. In our most devastating moments. In our most confusing moments. When we are tempted to question God’s goodness or His control, we must bow our hearts before the truth of His Word:

“[God] works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

“As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30 AMPC)

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works (Psalm 145:17 ESV)

If God was sovereign, but not good, we could be sure of His control, but unsure that He would rule righteously or fairly. He would be like a tyrant.

If God was good, but not sovereign, we could appreciate His intentions, and He would be powerless to enact them. He would be like a cheerleader. Hopeful, encouraging, but He wouldn’t be able to affect the outcome.

Our confidence from Scripture is that, in a mystery, God is always working sovereignly. The Judge of all the earth always does what is right (Genesis18:25). His judgment is just (John 5:30). He rules with unrivaled authority and complete control over every inch of creation.

And He is unquestionably good. He is kind and right in everything that He does. In His own description of Himself, when He declares His glory before Moses, He says that He is:

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6–7).

Friend, this is who God is. Remember Him in your greatest grief. He can be trusted with your deepest pain and unanswered questions. He will always be who He is. He never changes. He is God alone – He has absolute rule over all things. And He is good and perfect in all that He does and allows.

  1. God ordains physical death. We must come to terms with that. Death is the just consequence of mankind’s sin against God. Every day, we deserve death for our sin against God, and in His long-suffering mercy, God patiently puts off the day of our death. Death is more than something God allows – it is part of His curse on the world because of mankind’s rebellion against Him. Death is experienced through natural means, a consequence of poor choices, and even through Satan who comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.” The hope for believers is that God, not the devil, is sovereign over death (Deuteronomy 32:39). Jesus showcased that in His resurrection. Jesus came so that His people would have abundant life, death no longer has dominion over Him, and death is the last enemy that He will finally destroy when He comes again.

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Psalm 139:16 NASB).

3. We may not always understand the ways of God. Joseph’s story also contains mystery when we read that he suffered for two decades all the 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 ESV). Over and over in Scripture God reminds us that He is in control:

“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 NASB)

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable (meaning ‘impossible to be searched out’) His ways!” (Romans 11:33)

4. 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 intrude, “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 ESV).

Much like the story of Job, God sometimes allows Satan to tempt and fight against His people.

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 NASB). It is encouraging to note two purposes in this suffering: Jesus Christ prays for the strengthening of our faith amid Satan’s attacks, and God will use our trials to transform and sanctify us and to later give us an opportunity to strengthen and comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

In both cases, what Satan needs, and what God grants, is permission. Jesus has been exalted to the highest place and is ruling over all things. He never grants permission unjustly or without a greater redemptive purpose in view. It is such a mystery to us that Satan is allowed to continue to exist, to have any slack in his leash, but God is wise and good in patiently forestalling His judgment (2 Peter. 3:9). Until then, we can know with certainty that God is greater than the evil one and is sovereign over him.

5. God gave us free will. Satan’s goal is to “kill, steal, and destroy,” but Jesus came to give life abundant (John 10:10). Choosing suicide is not the desire of God for anyone. In fact, Scripture tells us to choose 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” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NASB).

The Word of God also teaches that He will always provide a way of escape:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB).

Even though God is all-knowing and, in His sovereignty, knows the days of our lives—all of them—it is not His desire for anyone to perish at their own hand.

6. We live in a broken world, with the hope of Christ making all things new.

Because spiritual death and eternal separation from God was not part of God’s original design, mankind’s rebellion against God’s laws has the consequences of suffering, pain, and the brokenness of the world. It will not always be so. Creation even now, along with all those who have been made new by Jesus, longs for the day when Christ will come again and make all things new. The apostle John describes that day we long for as he saw it in his vision:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:1-5 ESV).

That day is coming, hurting one. And we are to set our hope fully on the grace that Christ will bring to us when He comes again (1 Peter 1:13). Until that day, we groan and long for it. We weep while we wait and experience the fallout of a world broken by sin. But we do not lose hope. He will come. He will wipe every tear from the eyes of everyone who trusts in Him. We must choose to trust Him, day by day. He is sovereign. And He is good. May we find comfort in His great love and bow our heads in humble worship.



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