Last evening just before time for “Peak of the Week” at White’s Ferry Road Church I was suddenly and soundly reminded that the prince of darkness is steadily at work. As Carol and I finished our dinner my cell phone brought the news that a former associate and dear friend had committed suicide.
In the rush and confusion of the next few moments my emotions raged. A smothering sadness soon gave way to intense anger at the evil one and then compassion for a grieving son, sisters, and mother. Today I will visit with some of them and listen as they ask dozens of questions that have no answers, and love them however I am able.
I have lost a friend, and in one of the ugliest ways. For some reason all hope was lost, uncertainty about the future overwhelmed, rational thought became impossible, the inner turmoil was unbearable, all possibilities but none will ever be clear. I only know that my friend whom I loved took her own life.
And I know that my troubled friend went out to face my Heavenly Father who is altogether just, loving, long suffering, and knew my friends end long before any of us knew her beginning.
The name on her church is different than mine but she trusted the same Christ I do. She took her own life, an awful sin and affront to God. I ask myself, isn’t suicide one of the myriad of offences Jesus bore in his body and paid for in full?
I’ll close this post with a quote from John Piper. These are remarks he made at the funeral of his friend who also took her own life in 1982. They express my heart today.
Finally the question: What about our friend? Was she made new when she put her life into the hands of God? We have good reason to think she was on the new road. Not instant change, but on the road. The wounds of sin don’t heal easily.
But then came the suicide. And in our minds there lingers the question: Is she safe with Christ? Or does suicide bring condemnation? Jesus has a word for us here:
Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of eternal sin. (Mark 3:28–29)
Only one thing puts a person beyond forgiveness: blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. But this is not any single act, for Jesus says any sins and blasphemies will be forgiven those who follow him. No. Blasphemy against the Spirit of God is treating the Spirit as dirt by continually and persistently resisting and rejecting this call to repentance until death.
No single sin, not even suicide, evicts a person from heaven into hell. One thing does: continual rejection of God’s Spirit. Our friend, we believe, gave up that resistance and accepted the forgiveness of Christ. What sort of momentary weakness, what brief cloud of hopelessness caused her to take her life remains a mystery. But no one can say this: that her final act is unforgivable. Nor any other act by any of us. For Jesus said: all sins will be forgiven the sons of men if they give up resisting the Spirit and look to Jesus for salvation.”