Spiritual Suicide, by Pastor Lloyd Pulley, April 2021

Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – April 2021

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

Suicide is a devastating cause of death and has significantly risen within this past year due to COVID and subsequent isolation. The level of hopelessness, depression, and discouragement became overwhelming. All the potential that life brings is gone forever, and a world of regret, sadness, and guilt for loved ones to bear, is left behind. It is lifesaving to recognize the signs that someone may be suicidal. A simple search online yields numerous lists of what to look for to familiarize yourself with these signs. Offering understanding and hope to one so suffering could mean the difference between life and death.

The Bible refers to spiritual death, and the resulting loss of potential also leads to great sorrow. As physical death is a separation of the soul from the body, spiritual death is a separation of our spirit from God. This separation came from the original sin of Adam and Eve. The Bible reveals God's plan to restore that connection by sacrificing His only Son on the Cross. When one puts their trust in Jesus' sacrifice, they are forgiven and restored to that spiritual life and enjoyment of a restored relationship with God. Just as physical suicide can result from neglecting to cultivate good relationships with people, a slow spiritual suicide can come to those who keep rejecting or ignoring God's invitation to believe in Him.

As in any healthy relationship, good communication is vital. The Bible is God's communication to us, revealing His mind and heart. Prayer is our communication to Him, pouring out our hearts. Fellowship with like-minded believers means encouraging contact with other members of His body. If deprived of these essential things, one cannot expect to have a good relationship with God. We would become ignorant of His mind and frustrated, having no one to whom we could pour out our hearts, and none to challenge us in love.

People who live apart from God reason that they are not hurting anyone. But as physical suicide comes with a devastating loss of potential, spiritual suicide has an untold damaging effect on others. Consider all the lost possibility that exists in you when you are not at your best, overflowing with His love and power. What about all the resulting lack of encouragement on those you might encounter? This loss is something that statistics will never be able to measure—the absence of godly influence and help to those so deeply and desperately in need of it. It is impossible to quantify what good never happens and what greatness is never realized in and through a person when they are not free to be what God intended them to be.

Spiritual malnourishment results from ignorance of God's Word. Hosea 4:6 declares, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." The Word of God is our guide, leading us on the right paths and acting as the moral compass of our souls. Weakened spiritually, not knowing God's mind, leads to many mistakes and much unnecessary pain. When difficulty arises, which would ordinarily strengthen faith, there is little ability to resist the invading thoughts overrunning your life. With His Word in our hearts, prayer on our lips, and being inspired by others in fellowship, we can have hope and offer hope to others who are too weak to make the connection themselves.

In the 1950s, John Hopkins professor Curt Richter experimented on both domesticated and wild rats. He dropped the recently trapped and fiercely aggressive rats into containers half-filled with water and which sprayed water down, making it difficult for them to breathe. Though known for their swimming ability, they all died around the 18-minute mark.

Richter then repeated the experiment on a new set of rats with one adjustment—this time he rescued the rats just before they drown and held them a bit before putting them back into the water. It was a shocking result as that group of rats survived for a surprising 36 hours. What made the second group of rats last over 100x longer when he only lifted them out for a moment? Richter concluded it could only have been that he introduced "hope." The rats that experienced a short rescue were holding on "hoping" to be rescued again. With no hope, that first group gave up!

The Bible tells us we have a Living Hope—and His name is Jesus. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Absent such an abiding hope, a person may succumb to depression, frustration, and loneliness. Hope is the anchor for our souls! If you don't know the true person of God or experience His help in prayer or from His people, how can you have hope? But when you believe God is who He says He is, and He loves you enough to send His only begotten Son to die for you, then raising Him from the dead—this gives us hope! He assures us, no matter how hard it gets, that He is coming back to rescue those who trust in Him! This encourages us to "keep swimming," stay strong and be faithful.