The recent news of Rick Warren's son committing suicide has not only rocked people individually, but the church as well. I've written extensively on here about my own journey with depression and my spiritual thoughts about mental illness. I'm certainly not saying every person having a bad day needs dragged to the altar for a splash of oil and a low key exorcism, but I am saying as the church we have got to get better at helping struggling people.
Rick mentions in his letter to his church family that his son had everything possible available for healing physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually. He lived at least ten years longer than he wanted to and still last weekend he killed himself. He died. He's no longer here and if you want my two cents - he's in Heaven.
Check back later this week for my blog post How to go to Hell and stay there. For now I'll say it's not up to us to assume everyone who commits suicide goes to Hell. I happen to think God understands suffering much better than we do.
Trust me on this - you can love God with everything you have and still not want to be here another second. Even a soul saved by grace has a dark night sometimes. And often that darkness lingers. Despair is exhausting.
People don't have to be throwing themselves off a bridge to be dying.
And the Warren family tragedy is proof that the church can't save everyone from ending their life, or suffering, or feeling hopeless. But, as a church we can be there and we can do better. We can show up. We can be in community enough to know how people are doing. And how they're doing really.
Having all the answers is never a requirement for helping. If you have hands then you can hold someone else. If you have ears you can listen. And if you have a heart you can help. People would much rather hear, "I'm so sorry," than a 12 step solution for feeling better by Friday anyway.
As for eternal life, that's not up to us. I like to think God picks up the bottle of tears to overflowing and feels the hurt. He senses pain before we do. He knows when hearts are broken and the repairs aren't holding. He knows.
I echo the sentiment of Ruth Graham today who said, "When a believer takes their own life, God hasn't called them home, but He welcomes them home."