The Love of God in Christ Jesus

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers…nor anything else will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   (Rom. 8:37 passim)

I recently attended a funeral.  It was a sad funeral for many reasons, one of which is that the man had taken his own life.

The preacher didn’t say how he had died.  Maybe the family requested that he not.

I’ve preached at many funerals under such circumstances. When I would meet with the family to put together a service, I always asked if I could face into how the person died. Most family members would want me to share the truth, but some would initially have some reservations.  As we continued to talk, those who had some reluctance usually decided that it was important to share how their loved one had died.

One of the reasons why I’d ask the family for their permission to speak the truth is that I believe it’s important to be honest in our sanctuaries.

Another reason is these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For I am convinced… [that nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus…”

If we really believe Paul’s words, then we need to proclaim that nothing—not even suicide—can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.

Yet, one more reason why I felt it was important, to tell the truth was for those in attendance who could be having their own dark thoughts.  If someone knew how the person died sees me avoiding the truth, I worried that I could be discouraging them from bringing their own pain to the church.  If we can’t bring our pain to the church, our pain becomes our shame.

If anyone is struggling with depression, I encourage you to get some help. Don’t deny your pain.  Don’t judge yourself by thinking that if only you had more faith, you would be well.  For those who have never had such dark thoughts, may I encourage you to not judge and have compassion for those who do.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Are you, like Paul, convinced that nothing could ever separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus?
  1. If you are, do you realize that you can always rest in that love? If not, what do you think could ever be greater than God’s love?
  1. Can you bring your pain, doubts, and struggles to your community of faith? If you can’t, are you in the right community?

I invite you to watch this video of hope and love— “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle

5 thoughts on “The Love of God in Christ Jesus

  1. Lynn Maxwell

    Hugs to you and your family. Thinking of you all. Some years ago, my sister-in-law shot herself, leaving my brother and his son to grow up alone. She suffered from manic depression, and we used the funeral as a way to educate folks, many of whom did not know how she died, about the devastation of this disease. I admit that I still have days when I wonder about God’s love for us; it’s hard to understand how these events in our lives could be a positive and why could God let negative events occur? Sometimes this Universe just seems to roll on, regardless and heedless of we humans who have hitched temporary lifetime rides, and it’s REALLY hard to feel good. Other times, I can bask a little in the light and feel that it’s all here for a Divine reason. I have come to believe that each of these events give us the opportunity to choose to learn something positive, or to just mourn and never grow any from having lived through this experience. I choose to try and extract the positives and use them as growing tools to enlarge my perspective and to engender compassion for others. It’s sure not easy; some events just don’t seem to have any hopeful aspects attached to them. God’s plans for us sure seem to include some ‘tough love’ aspects. I do try to keep in the “I’m learning” zone. I’m assuming that’s where God lives and where we are supposed to reside, too. Sending peace to you.

  2. Joyce W Klejbuk

    I have been to the edge and thankfully, He did rescue me. Life can be so hard. Bless you for sharing the truth. It may be the lifeline someone needs. I have great empathy for those who struggle with depression and other mental illnesses. I pray they find their way to the other side and live well.

  3. John Madison

    Jim, when my son, Tyler, took his own life at 17 in 2001, his oldest sister, Melinda, spoke at his funeral. She did try to cover up what he did. She used the opportunity to exhort all to seek out help when life becomes that unbearable. And what I also admired about her was how she admitted that she was angry with him, only because she loved him so much. She spoke of how if he was standing in front of her, she would shake him, then hug him. She has been an advocate for suicidal prevention since.
    Our thoughts now are how he is in the arms of a loving God. His memory has allowed his sisters, his mother, and myself to be able to approach people who are hurting, or who have also lost a loved one to suicide, letting them know that we know what they are going through. Sometimes they are so surprised, asking how I got through it. I’m honest. I tell them I didn’t think I could; that there were days I cried uncontrollably leaning against the wall of the shower, then screaming during my entire fifteen minute drive to work, telling people that the reason I had no voice was because I was coming down with a cold. There were times when I felt like I was coming apart and flying off into a million little pieces. I tell them this…and they know. And they see me still standing…not by my own power, but by the love of God and the love of those who are still with me. Forgive me for being so wordy…but I’m thankful for every chance of sharing. God bless you, your family, and the wonderful mission of this blog.

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