by Jody Nuefeld
I do not presume to know the hearts of people who are navigating a journey of grief after the death of a loved one who chose suicide. But I know several people who are walking this path and I have spent time reading and studying the words of Jesus regarding Judas Iscariot. I was raised as a Catholic and was taught that suicide was an “unpardonable sin.” I do not believe Scripture supports that assumption. More importantly, I do not believe that the judgment of any of us lies with us. Only God gets to make that decision. We are called to love (Matthew 22:37-40).
We are to be like children in our faith.
About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 2 Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him. 3 Then he said:
“I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. 4 But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:1-4 (CEV)
A child with simple trust that their Father is going to take care of them no matter what may happen in their life, is the example that Jesus uses as an illustration for our faith model. What happens if my child breaks a mixing bowl, the last one that belonged to my mother and her mother before her? A child may even understand they have done wrong by getting into something that they have been told before not to touch. No amount of tears or apologies will put the bowl back together. A child cannot even attempt to earn money to buy a replacement because there is no replacement for that one of a kind item. The Father has the perfect perspective because He understands that a child’s heart is much more important than a bowl.
And so the Father has the perfect perspective of a child who, whether intentionally or accidentally, has ended their life out of the depths of their despair and pain. The Father knows this child; knows their heart. He is speaking to them in the final seconds just as Christ spoke to the two thieves from His place on the cross. Jesus snatched one more thief from the clawing grip of the enemy with His last earthly breath. He will continue to do the same as He prepares to bring God’s children home.
“Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven.12 Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? 13 I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off.14 That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.” Matthew 18:10-14 (CEV)
No child will come up missing with the Father. It is a terrible feeling as a parent to be walking in a mall filled with people and realize you do not have your child with you! In some small way, we might be able to view Father God’s desire for His children to come home to Him, with none getting lost.
In my 30+ years as a nurse, 12 years with hospice, I have seen some extraordinary “home goings.” I can testify to you that there is a glow, a Presence, in the room when someone has left this earthly life with it’s struggles and pain. Most certainly there is sorrow in the hearts of those left behind. When someone unexpectedly dies, there is shock and tremendous pain. But when we know Jesus and the Father with Whom He is one, we can lift our tear-drenched eyes and see vaguely what our loved one sees completely, the perfect love of God.
Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror.
Later we will see him face to face.
We don’t know everything, but then we will,
just as God completely understands us. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (CEV)
Satan’s mission. Satan’s job is to accuse us. He rants in our ear, reminding us how flawed and unworthy we are. And we are! Remember how Satan quoted Scripture during his temptation of Jesus? He is talented in his ability to take even Scripture and spout half-truths, which are lies! BUT we are saved and covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ. When we do not soak ourselves on a daily basis and keep ourselves connected to all that is good and just, we allow cracks to spread in our armor of protection. Our weaknesses become more vulnerable. The accuser’s voice gets louder.
And when a loved one dies, Satan doesn’t quit. He just lost another one to Christ’s saving grace, so now he turns on those who are left behind and begins to sow seeds of doubt into our assurance of God’s powerful love. If that loved one died as a result of suicide, Satan leaps with a vengeance and pounds us as we grieve. This is one of the reasons I have read and read these Scriptures. And it is God’s compassion and mercy that I always return to.
The mercy of God is our mercy. In Jesus’ story of the merciful king and unmerciful servant, we see what happens when we gratefully receive God’s mercy for ourselves and forget that God has given that mercy for all His children. It is God’s intention to so fill us with His love and great mercy, that we “leak” all over everyone else with a testimony of our need for His mercy.
My friends, brothers and sisters, let us keep our arms open to uplift and encourage each other. There are thousands of people who are wounded, broken and beaten up. They need us to share the power of God’s mercy and forgiveness. They need to know there is still Hope in Jesus. They may be too weak to go to the Spirit’s well and drink of His truth. We need to fill our own selves and pour out God’s love on the weary. And never assume they are living in that Hope. Keep encouraging; keep testifying as an overcomer.
Luke’s gospel tells us that Satan entered Judas (Luke 22:1- 6). Matthew’s gospel tells us that Judas was “seized with remorse” when he saw Jesus condemned. He threw the money he had been given into the Temple and told the priests, “I have spilled innocent blood” and hung himself (Matthew 27: 1-5). I believe Father God sees this whole picture and judges accordingly. I believe I will see Judas at the Marriage Supper which Jesus has planned for us when He unites all of God’s children. I believe Judas is forgiven and a child of God. I believe that because I believe in God’s great mercy toward me. I have a story to tell; a story of Hope.
There is Still a Dream Written by Rachal Lampa & sung by her & Aaron Neville