We were very saddened this weekend to hear that a high school freshman had taken his life Friday evening. His family had been our neighbors for several years, living in my wife’s folks’ old place. We had many opportunities to interact with and to share our faith with them. Their two boys were always greatly respectful and courteous and we often heard “Yes, ma’am,” “Yes sir.” They attended church a few times with us when I was filling in the pulpit. The older son, the freshman, had recently landed a job at a hardware store and even worked Friday, joking with fellow employees who commented that he really seemed to enjoy working. His dad had taught him to hunt and he was involved in sports and he had good athletic skills. There were no “red flags” indicating that he was depressed or struggling emotionally. But following work on Friday, after a long visit with a girlfriend, he went and found his dad’s pistol and ended his life.
Needless to say his family, friends, and school mates are in shock and grief, asking why? How could such a tragic thing happen to such a young man with much to live for and a great future ahead of him. Apparently he made a rash decision in the heat of the moment, thinking life at that point, was not worth living. We have an enemy, Satan, whom Jesus referred to as “The Father of Lies” (Jn 8:44) who hates us and tells us we are not of value, that God doesn’t really love us, and that there is no purpose in continuing on. We may as well “opt out” and end it all. But, the only power he has over us is when we believe his lies.
Truth be told, God loves us very much—enough to send His Son to die for our sins (Jn. 3:16; I Jn. 4:9,10)—and provides us with purpose, worth and significance which are not dependent upon our circumstances, but transcends them. The Apostle Peter encourages as well as warns us with these words: “Casting all you anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, because your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet. 5:7,8).
Many people get hung up on the question of why something happens. There is no 100 percent solution this side of heaven. And even if we could know why, it wouldn’t matter because the tragedy would not be any less painful. If we dwell on it, we’ll get stuck in an endless cycle of trying to figure out something that is in this life unknowable. Also, tragic loss does not negate God’s overall plan from before time to redeem mankind through Christ’s substitutionary death on our behalf. Often, in fact, God uses suffering, grief and loss, to bring many to a place where they acknowledge their frailty and need of Him. It is very likely God will do that in this tragic event as well. He has lots of folks’ attention—especially the young people in our community who were greatly impacted by this young man, as evidenced Sunday night with a big parade through town and a gathering afterward to grieve and share memories, celebrating his life. God the Son came to earth, taking on human form so that He could become the sacrifice for sin and defeat Satan (Heb. 2:9,14,15) and offer each of us eternal life through acknowledging our sin and trusting in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection on our behalf (Jn. 5:24; Ro. 10:9,10,13).
God the Son also took on human form so that he could empathize with the tough things we face, for “He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15), “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16). Because He fully understands what we go through, He is “the God of all comfort; who comforts us in any affliction…” (II Cor. 1:3,4). He is not only the “God of all comfort,” but also the “God of peace.” “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord” (Heb. 13:20). In addition, He is the “God of Hope.” “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Ro. 15:13).
At such a time as this we desperately need comfort, peace, and hope. God alone can offer them to us and He does so through the person of Jesus Christ. When we invite Him into our life as our Savior and Lord, He becomes all this to us. He is our peace, our joy, our hope, and through the Holy Spirit who also comes to dwell in the believer, we have comfort and counsel in our time of need.
God is there for you, and “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will he not freely give us all things?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, no angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro. 8:31,32.37-39).
So, don’t listen to Satan’s lies, listen to the promises of God who loves you very, very much. Find comfort, peace, hope and joy in Him through His Son Jesus Christ who will give you purpose, worth and significance. Cast all your cares upon Him. He really does care for you (I Pet. 5:7).
P.S. We would appreciate your prayer for the memorial service for this young man which will be Thursday at 1 p.m. I have been asked to officiate.