I drive my son to school everyday. Most of the time it is quiet, neither one of us desiring to talk. But usually, about once a week, a question (or statement) is presented that we proceed to unpack. I would like to invite you into these talks. It has been valuable to me. Maybe it will become valuable to you. By the way, my son’s name is Oaks. Yes, like the tree.
Oaks: “Dad, do you go to Heaven if you commit suicide?”
Me: “Why do you ask?”
Oaks: “I don’t know. Just wondering.”
Me: “Is this person a Christian?”
Oaks: “Yes. Oh….and Dad?””
Oaks: “I mean….if we get to go to Heaven, why is it bad to commit suicide?”
Me: “Interesting perspective, Son. Let me try to explain.”
The topic of suicide is a difficult and sensitive topic. I am sure someone reading this has dealt with this personally. I have not. In this relatively brief discussion, Oaks asked two questions. I will attempt to answer both.
Regarding the destiny of someone who is a Christian and yet chooses to commit suicide, my answer is simple. This person goes immediately into the presence of God. What do I base my answer on? The unbreakable union of the Christian with Jesus Christ, communicated clearly from the authority of God’s word.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-40)
Nothing can snatch you out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28)
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)
Our spiritual inheritance is secure. (Ephesians 1:14)
Our names are written in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5)
Now of course this assumes that this individual is truly saved. But assuming that is the case, even in a moment or a season of despair, the saving power of God will bring His hurting child home.
Now the second question Oaks asked is uncomfortable, but necessary. And if we are being honest, many of us might admit we have thought about this before. This world is a struggle. Evil seems to be winning and even more frustrating, evil people seem to be the benefactors of these victories. Disease and sickness are inevitable. So why not take your life? I mean, if we believe in the gospel, death will bring us into the arms of Jesus and thereby freeing our souls forever from the stains of sin and sadness. This is our hope, fixed in the truth of the resurrection, right? Absolutely. I have given my life to this belief.
So what stops me from taking my own life? There are many reasons, but I will offer two. The first is this: God has given us a mission. Apparently, qualifications for this mission doesn’t require all your limbs or a perfect mental or emotional state. I mean, think about Joni Eareckson Tada. At 17 years old she dove into shallow water and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. If anyone had a reason to end their life and head to Heaven, it would be this woman. But God gave her a mission. A mission that apparently was to be executed by someone that will never be able to walk. By the way, she has written over 48 books, ministered to thousands of individuals with special needs and received dozens of awards for her Christian service.
The second reason is this: God desires us to become more like Jesus. This journey of sanctification is progressive. It takes time. Trials and tribulations thicken us (to quote Lewis) to be able to enjoy the riches of Heaven even more. All this talk of spiritual riches and rewards either mean something or they don’t. But if they do mean something, then staying here is important. Like eternally important. Paul basically said this in his letter to the Philippians.
Now some of you are wondering why I don’t quote verses that talk about the numbering of our days or that God is the giver of life. I could. But this leads us into moral and ethical dilemmas that are distracting. Is it okay to keep someone on life support? If you want to die, because you have a terminal illness, but you have access to drugs to extend your life, should you take them? So on and so forth.
Good questions, Son. Until our next talk.