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.
- Are you, like Paul, convinced that nothing could ever separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus?
- 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?
- 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