Monday, June 27, 2011

"What About Suicide?"

ACTS 16:23-34 Unfortunately, there have been several in my extended family who’ve committed suicide.
In 2006 (the latest year for which we have national statistics), there were 33,300 suicides in the U.S. (91.2 suicides per day; 1 suicide every 15.8 minutes). This translates to an annual suicide rate of 11.1 per 100,000.(source - www.suicidology.org)

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death. Suicide ranks third as a cause of death among young (15-24) Americans behind accidents and homicides

Kasey was only 16 years old when he ended his own life last May, 2001. We were heart broken and shocked beyond belief. He told no one that he was feeling sad or that he was thinking of ending his own life. This is unusual because 80% of people contemplating suicide do tell someone.

Beginning with that very second in which we discovered what our son had done, the small- but- powerful three- lettered question, "Why?!", relentlessly echoing over and over in all of the minds of those that knew our son or heard about his death. Amazingly only 10 to 15% of all suicides leave a note behind and yes, he did leave us a very short note just saying "Don’t blame anyone but me." which gave us little comfort.

Kasey was a good young man who never drank alcohol or used drugs. However many people will drink or use drugs in an attempt to end the pain they feel inside as a way of self medicating . There was no "sudden" change in our son’s personality or appearance, nor did he give any of his possessions away. He went to school every day and was often on the honor roll. He participated in the usual things that a normal teen would participate in during the last few days of his life. Saturday night he went bowling with a friend. Sunday, along with his family he visited his grandparents and went to church after which he accompanied a church leader to visit a homebound elderly lady. Monday he helped his family plant flowers for the city and went out for ice cream; he fertilized our lawn. But on Tuesday, after school and dinner, while the rest of the family was away, he ended his own life. Kasey’s mom - Stacy (adapted from www.Jaredstroy.com)

1 Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Job 3:21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;

Job 7:15 So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.

Jeremiah 8:3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.

Jonah 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Revelation 9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

Matthew 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

This is an incredible event. A man experiencing extreme despair suddenly changed and experiencing extreme joy.

There are three movements of thought I want us to consider:

I. THE INSTIGATION OF HIS SUICIDE ATTEMPT 16:27 “seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.”

Here’s a man whose foundation was shaken to the core of his soul. His perception suddenly changed (no longer as a loved husband, needed dad and respected soldier) as he peered into a dark and seemly empty jail. For a moment his life was as dark, quiet and hopeless as the grave. His soul was as empty as the jail appeared to be. But thank God for the light that reveals the truth!

What are some of the forces that could incite a person to so suddenly give up on life. An:

A. Intense frustration (compilation of contributing events and circumstances)

We have no idea what had happen in his life prior to this event. There may have been many contributing factors that led to his decision. With the mention of his family so prominently in his post suicide attempt, I believe he was having some extremely serious family problems. It could have been his marriage, a problem teenager or even adult child, etc. We really have no idea and most people don’t when a person attempts or commits suicide.

B. Intimidating fear (a force to be reckoned with)

C. Insurmountable failure (failure that appears to be incapable of being overcome or dealt with)

D. Ill-favored future (his prospect of the future from his current perspective was loathsome and unwelcome - he had nothing to look forward to and what he did see he hated - a disgraced soldier!)

II. THE INTERVENTION TO HIS SUICIDE ATTEMPT 16:28 “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.”

A man standing at the threshold of death, on the brink of eternity at the conclusion of the whole matter - and suddenly He experienced GRACE!

There is a tremendous weight of responsibility we carry as Christians having the solution to life’s greatest need.

Numbers 16:48 And he (Aaron) stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.

A. It took an act of God 16:26 “there was a great earthquake”

1. He prepared Paul and Silas before they were put in prison and were mistreated 16:25 “they prayed”


Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

1 Peter 2:20 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God.

2. He caused an earthquake
3. He restrained the prisoners
4. He restrained the guard

B. It took a spiritual minded person 16:25 “sang praises”

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

C. It took a unselfish person 16:28 “do thyself no harm”

1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.

D. It took a forgiving spirit 16:23 “when they had laid many stripes upon them”

I’m not so sure we can measure the amount of forgiveness it would have taken to have a forgiving spirit when you’ve just been thrown into maximum security and then put in stocks while your bleeding and wounded.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

E. It took a prepared soul winner 16:28 “do thyself no harm”

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

F. It took a genuine testimony 16:29 :”fell down before Paul and Silias”

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This guard had previously heard out of the mouth of those imprisoned cursing and vile language - but these men were different. Are you different? Are you a solution to problems or are you a problem?

Romans 13:13-14 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].

Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

G. It took an act of faith 16:31 “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

III. THE INSIGHT FROM HIS SUICIDE ATTEMPT 16:34 “and rejoiced believing in God with all his house”

A. Jesus changed everything - no matter where you may be in life, Jesus can make the change you need.

God took an earthquake and shook a man to his core!

1. He was a ordinary man - married, had family and job

2. He was a callous man - soldier

3. He was a hurting man - would have killed himself

B. There are people who care - Paul and Silas - the church cares!

There could have been grief and pain and a broken family.

C. God has a great plan for your life - was the church a Philippi his doing?

D. It’s going to get better
Ask anyone who has attempted suicide and they will tell you how grateful they are that they didn’t succeed. Things will get better!

Psalms 30:5 For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory;

E. God truly loves you

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