Dear Suicidal Friend
Paul TautgesPaul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.
- 2015 Jan 21
In his excellent mini-book, HELP! My Friend Is Suicidal, police chaplain and pastor Bruce Ray, writes, “There is ultimately only one reason why people commit suicide. Most of them have not lost their minds, but all of them have lost hope. They have developed tunnel vision and cannot see any other workable options. Suicide is the only choice left that makes sense – i.e., the only option that to them seems reasonable.”
Hope, true hope, biblical hope, hope that grows out of that which is eternal—not temporal—is the remedy for the suicidal mind. Hope delivers from death (Ps 33:19).
There are many definitions of hope that I could mention here, but instead let me offer you mine. Hope is confident expectation in God to be faithful to fulfill each and every one of His promises.
Hope is in God. It is found in no other place. But what exactly does that mean? What mental ‘hooks of hope’ can we hang our thoughts upon? What truths must we continually feed to our idea-voracious minds in order that we might “not lose heart,” but instead ensure that “our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16)?
- Hope is God-centered. “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:7). Ultimately, hope is not found in anything, or anyone, outside of God.
- Hope is connected to Jesus Christ. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Tim 1:1). “Hope in God” is not possible unless we have been reconciled to Him through His Son, the one and only Mediator between God and sinners (1 Tim 2:5). In Christ, we have “a better hope” (Heb 7:19).
- Hope is the work of the Holy Spirit. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).
- Hope is rooted in the resurrection. “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:19-20). Through Christ we are “believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that [our] faith and hope are in God” (1 Pet 1:21).
- Hope is not dependent upon hopeful circumstances. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).
- Hope is focused on God’s promises. As believers, we live “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago” (Titus 1:2).
- Hope is dependent upon God’s goodness and mercy. “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine” (Ps 33:18-19). Biblical hope never grows well in the garden of entitlement.
- Hope grows in the mind that intentionally chooses to remember who God is. “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 321-23).
- Hope is found in the encouragement of the Scriptures. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4). “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word” (Ps 119:81).
- Hope is found in the saving gospel. “…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel” (Col 1:5).
- Hope is laid hold of by faith. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5; C.f. Rom 5:2).
- Hope grows out of Christ-like character, which can only be produced in the fires of suffering; therefore, a believer should not seek escape from suffering. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:3-4).
Finally, brethren, let us listen to and believe God’s benediction of hope that is obtained by grace. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word” (2 Thess 2:16-17). Knowing this let us each determine to be dispensers of hope in a world filled with hopelessness.