… "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the child of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. Isaiah 49:15-16
LISTEN TO: Judy Collins "Wings of Angels" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNittvHI-SY
(written after her son Clark's suicide in 1992)
Last Sunday evening I turned on the TV for my obligatory hour of Oscar ogling. What I saw floored me. Don't get me going on Lady Gaga's Sound of Music medley! However it was Graham Moore, the Academy Award screenwriter for The Imitation Game, who brought tears to my eyes. The heart of his speech is captured in the above picture. He admitted he tried to kill himself as a teenager because he felt weird, different, didn't fit in. He used his prime time acceptance speech to encourage all the kids watching to hang in there. To stay true to themselves. That there is a place for them in the world.
Suicide is one of those touchy subjects that make people squirm. The pain is real. The chemical misfiring in the brain is real. For those who are trying to mitigate the pain and to banish the despair, the love and hope is real. Yet one of the deepest mysteries of life is that people do take their lives for a variety of reasons no matter how much they are loved by God, their family or friends.
Suicide has been a family and professional acquaintance for many, many years. As a witness to a suicide, I can tell you that particular memory has bored a hole into my heart that the years have cushioned but not erased. In the theological debate about suicide I have also come to see that just as deadly are the little ways that we daily kill off life: through criticism, fear, anger. We put people down, as well as ourselves. We belittle other’s efforts or their dreams – or we discount the vision God has called us to because it is too different from what our family or friends are doing. We forget the words of Jesus: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? Matt. 7:3. We fail to see that in criticizing or hurting others we are really harming ourselves. In good or bad we are interconnected.
It is true that life can be so broken that children and older people do what to take their lives. There are cases where all the love in the world, the best doctors in the world couldn't sway a decision to die. Yet there are many, many examples of healing, love, therapies working, going through the darkness until the corner is turned, light is seen and life is transformed. We are not capable of unraveling this terrible mystery of suicide. What we can do is love no matter what. Faith teaches us God is compassion and merciful -- even when we don't understand. Even when we feel forgotten, faith teaches us God does not forget us. Faith teaches that even when we cannot perceive God, God is there. In the Valley of the Shadow of Death as well as beside the greenest pastures and still waters. Faith teaches us that goodness and mercy pursues us, all the days of our lives. Faith promises us that those we have lost to suicide are not lost to God. Faith teaches us that for those right now, who feel there is no future, there is indeed a future, a vision, a hope and a promise.
So whenever we are tempted to “kill” a piece of life today, let us chose to love. Whenever we meet someone who is despondent and low, let us seek to encourage and love them, praying they would come to know that they are precious and that they are engraved in the hand of God - and they have a place in this world.
Pray: “ God of Living, show us how to treasure the life you have blessed us with. Comfort those who have lost a loved one to suicide. We pray for those who are thinking of harming themselves. Through your grace and our help may they know they are loved, precious and that you have made a place for them in this world. ”