The Sadness Of Suicide Isn't Death, It's life.

                               By Phil Scovell

          I picked up the phone when I realized who was calling.  He called
     occasionally from the other side of the  country.  We had been friends
     for well for nearly a quarter  century and once had attended the  same
          He didn't sound well, his voice  was rough and weak, but I  asked
     how he was doing anyhow.  He replied that he wasn't doing so well so I
     asked him  what was wrong.   He informed me  he was calling me  from a
     mental health facility because he  had recently attempted suicide.  He
     didn't have much time to talk but later we would talk more.
          Before I could even ask any questions, he requested  I pray about
     something.   Of course, I said I would  but he said he meant something
     different.   I listened as  he asked me  to pray if  God wanted me  to
     still  be his  friend.   I  asked  him why  he was  asking  me such  a
     question.   It was  because he was  afraid I wouldn't  want to  be his
     friend any longer because of what he had done.  When he  explained the
     nature of his prayer  request, I told him  I would not pray about  any
     such thing because we were friends before and we were friends  now and
     nothing would ever change between us regardless of what had happened.
          Turning on the radio, I dialed up a local Christian stations.   A
     man was teaching  whom I have heard  often and although I  don't agree
     with a few things he teaches, I respect his overall ministry.
          He  was  teaching  on where  Christians  go  when they  die.   He
     believes, and this is at least one thing with which we would disagree,
     that Christian  sleep  in Christ  and  don't go  to Heaven  until  the
     resurrection.   This is an old felonious  doctrine that I thought died
     out  with the  last apostle,  whomever that  was, but  apparently not,
     because this  man still  believes, without using  the terminology,  in
     "soul  sleep."  I  do not  believe in such  a teaching but  I listened
          During the  course of  his teaching, he  told the  story about  a
     recent funeral he  attended.  He said that a teenage boy, who lived in
     his  neighborhood, had  committed suicide  by killing  himself with  a
     shotgun.    I  thought  he  was  rather  cavalier,  that  is  to  say,
     nonchalant, about the  way he began his story of this young man's life
     and sudden death.  I hoped the young man's family weren't listening to
     the same  radio program to which  I was tuned.  Yes,  I understand the
     preacher was trying  to be earthy, or  another way of saying  it might
     be, he was trying to bring his teaching down to earth, but there is no
     reason  to become dumber than dirt in  your attempt.  I for one didn't
     appreciate his style but then what do I know, I'm just a dumb preacher
     myself.   Anyhow, as I was saying, he  began telling this story simply
     to use the sermon preached at the  teenager's funeral as an example of
     what isn't true  about going to  Heaven.  Let  me explain what  he was
          The youth pastor,  of the church the  family apparently attended,
     was speaking at the funeral.   The building was packed, standing  room
     only, according to  the radio teacher, and mostly  with teenagers from
     the church and high school the  boy attended.  The radio teacher  said
     there wasn't a dry eye in the place.  He, on the other hand, disagreed
     with  the youth  pastor concerning  what  Heaven was  like and,  when,
     Christians who die,  go there.  This  was, as I have  said, because he
     personally  believes  in soul  sleep,  or  what  today we  might  call
     suspended  animation,  if  you  watch  Star  Trek  I  mean,  and  that
     Christians  sleep in  Christ until  the  resurrection of  the dead  at
     Christ's return.   He literally said, Christian  go no where when they
     die in  this life  but sleep  in Christ.   Yes,  it's stupid  but some
     people think, and believe, this doctrinal interpretation of this issue
     and there isn't much  of a way of changing their mind  so I won't even
          I eventually turned the radio off and sat for a moment  thinking,
     not so much about his teaching, but about the story he used concerning
     the  young  man who  had committed  suicide  and to  whose  funeral he
     attended.  It bothered me.  I  didn't know why yet but it bothered  me
     because something was wrong about the story.
          A couple of days passed, and the story came to mind several times
     until I realized what was wrong.
          The radio minister said that  following the funeral, he stood and
     watched as  all the teenage  friends of  this young  man were  crying,
     hugging each other,  and grieving over the loss of there friend.  I've
     preached funerals, been  to many more than I  have preached, including
     that of both  my parents,  and friends and  relatives who have  passed
     away, so I understand the brief and the sharp emotional pain we suffer
     at,  not only a  funeral, but  the loss  of a loved  one in  the first
     place.   It was  this part  of the  story that  disturbed me  the most
     without realizing why until the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to me.
          As I focused on the death of this young  man, I recognized it was
     clear, this young man  had way more friends than he realized.   I also
     thought, if he could come back and  see all those who truly loved him,
     and who were now weeping and grieving over the loss of his friendship,
     he  wouldn't have taken his  own life.   Yet, as I  considered this, I
     realized, this still  wasn't what  bothered me.   After all, I  didn't
     know him personally, but I wish I had and here is why.
          What disturbed me about this story was not the young  man's death
     but his  life.  He left his life, for  some reason, not knowing he had
     hundreds of friends, young and old,  and he died without the  personal
     knowledge, emotional confidence, or even with the spiritual awareness,
     that  he  had a  single  person he  could  trust with  his  deepest of
     feelings.   I wanted to  cry then myself  because that indeed  was the
     truth that should have been revealed at the funeral.  In  other words,
     where were all his friends when he needed them the most.
          You cannot read the Bible from cover to cover without recognizing
     how responsible we are  for each other as brothers and  sisters in the
     body of Christ.  Yet, huge monstrous ministries that broadcast live on
     radio and television  networks around the world, down  to the smallest
     home based churches meeting in  living rooms or tiny rented storefront
     shopping malls, have forsaken the most foundational teachings of God's
     Word concerning personal  responsibility for our brothers  and sisters
     in the Lord.   The most contact  of personal relationship the  average
     Christian has is  when they go to  church and say, at  the very least,
     "Good morning," to those they pass heading down the aisle toward their
     favorite spot  where they have likely  sat for decades.   We sometimes
     stick around  church  for a  few  minutes  to talk  with,  so  called,
     "friends, but otherwise, we have little contact.
          I  ask again,  where were  all his  friends, including  the radio
     preacher telling this  story who claimed he lived, and  I quote, "Just
     down the street," from  the boy who took his own life.  In my opinion,
     those  left will  have  to answer  that question  in that  young man's
     behalf some day.   In fact, the  radio preacher, implying he  knew the
     young  man and  was  "a neighbor,"  is going  to be  first in  line to
     explain to Jesus  where he was when  the young man needed  someone the
          In  my case, I had to apologize  to my friend who called from the
     mental health  facility.   I had  to tell  him that  based upon  prior
     conversations with  him, and  from my personal  prayer times,  I knew,
     once his elderly ill father, whom he had been caring for, passed away,
     he would be  having more serious  problems.  I  did not have a  direct
     phone to my friend because he preferred I not call  him at the home of
     his  father's because  he felt  more comfortable  calling me  instead.
     Yet,  I was  still responsible  because  I am  his Christian  brother,
     personal friend, and  I knew  he was  facing a difficult  time in  his
     life.  I won't make that same mistake again.
          How many  of our own  Christian brothers and sisters  are falling
     through  the cracks because we aren't listening, are too busy to spend
     time  with  the hurting,  and  too  preoccupied with  all  of our  own
     problems  to carry the burdens of others.   Yet, you say, "I am one of
     the hurting.  I  am suicidal.  I  am afraid.   I have no friends  upon
     whom  I can  rely."   I,  for one,  have experienced  that spiritually
     crippling  loneliness, so if  you are one  who has been  forgotten, or
     have  been allowed  by the church  to fall  through the cracks,  as it
     were, I'll do  my best to be  here for you and  when I can't?   I know
     someone, to whom I can introduce to you, who will never leave you  nor
     forsake you.  Yes, I  know you can't even believe that about Him right
     now but He can show you His spiritual intimacy, of which He desires to
     share personally  with you, that  is so far  beyond anything you  have
     ever dreamed, you'll find total completeness in Him.

     Safe Place Fellowship
     Phil Scovell
     Denver, Colorado
     Mountain Time Zone

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