Every day I receive emails from the Pentagon with news of a soldier taking his or her life. Some days there are multiple messages. The reports are concise and heartbreaking. Today after three emails I just had to cry. A colonel facing retirement put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger; a female captain hung herself; a sergeant overdosed on drugs; a private threw himself in front of traffic; and, a specialist leaped from a bridge. Relentlessly these bitter messages invade my computer.
What is wrong with people that they so despair of life? And consider that I am just talking about one segment of our society—the Army. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2009, the rate among the 25 to 64 year age group was 16.25 suicides per 100,000.” The projected population of the United States on October 7, 2012, was 314,535,408. According to these statistics (assuming the most recent 2009 rate), 51,112 people will commit suicide this year. The size of my city Tigard is about 49,000. Imagine a city lost every year! Tragically, about 140 people in our nation take their lives every day.
1 Timothy 1:15,16—This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
The Apostle Paul faced times in life so distressing he considered dying. “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength —so that we even despaired of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). On top of persecution he faced enormous guilt. Prior to his conversion, he facilitated the death of Christians, he used his keen intellect to oppose God’s work, and he brashly acted to make Jesus’ followers miserable. Yet neither present persecution nor past fault led him to take his own life. How did he persevere?
It was Paul who wrote the Colossians, “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). We have an epidemic in our land that will not be cured by drugs, by noble speeches or persistent monitoring. The only cure is mercy because the real problem is spiritual. When men and women come to the end of themselves the message they need to hear is not that they are being selfish or cowardly if they choose to embrace death. The message they need to hear is that God loves them and offered Jesus to erase their debt. God is not fazed by their vile guilt; unsympathetic to their continuing shame; critical of their bottomless depression; clueless to their mistakes; or, blind to their dilemmas.
Jesus mercifully took every bad thing we could do, every evil thought and vain imagination, every sense of uselessness and fear and obliterated them by His blood. He embraced death so we wouldn’t be left holding a sin debt we could never pay. It was knowing this that gave Paul the courage to serve the Savior he formerly slandered. Grasping mercy, he withstood hell’s worst attacks. We have that same compassion that flows from eternal love.
Find a person who cannot bear to live. Share with him Jesus who already died. Even believers need reminders. When our land wakes up and chooses again to worship its risen Savior and to share His love, the needless deaths will stop. Until then, we have a formidable challenge and the emails will continue.
©2012 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)