Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ…
without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace (Eph. 2:12-14).
There are two kinds of hope. There is spiritual hope and earthly hope. For Christians, spiritual hope is based upon Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. It keeps us going in times of crises. Even death cannot rob us of spiritual hope. On the other hand, earthly hope can suddenly disappear and leave us feeling helpless and confused about the value of life, itself.
Eugene was a troubled high schooler. When his girlfriend ended their relationship, Eugene spiraled downward into earthly hopelessness and decided to kill himself. While attempting to hang himself, Eugene changed his mind and tried to stop the process. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the rope off his neck. He tried calling his sister with his cell phone, but she didn’t answer. Next, he called his ex-girlfriend and told her what was happening. The ex-girlfriend called his sister. The sister called 911 and ran into the garage to help. Eugene was still alive when he was taken to the hospital. Tragically, Eugene’s life could not be saved. I did not know if Eugene had any Christian faith or hope, so all I could do was point his family to Jesus for spiritual guidance and renewal.
Carl was a farmer, active in his Lutheran church but lost his earthly hope. He took a shotgun, put it to his mouth, and pulled the trigger. Thankfully, his aim was off, but he did terrible damage to the left side of his face. He spent weeks in the hospital. Through my chaplain visits, the Lord renewed Carl’s spiritual and earthly hope. He went home to restart his life with Jesus’ comforting strength.
The Lord calls all of us to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). For people struggling with thoughts of suicide, that may mean asking the difficult question: “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” We can persuade that person to get help. We can refer that person to the needed help. Saying, “I want you to live!” offers them earthly hope. Saying, “Jesus loves all sinners, including you!” offers spiritual hope.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and, by his grace, gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2Thess 2:16-17)