It was a beautiful afternoon several years ago when I was about to enter a local bank for my weekly business transaction. Suddenly, I heard three rounds of rapid gunshots. Automatically, I turned toward the direction of the sounds and saw a man across the street with a pistol in his hand. In a moment of time, he placed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. I heard the sickening sound of another shot and then the man slumped to the ground. The bizarre events were over in a very short time. I, along with others, had become unwilling witnesses to a terrible tragedy. The man had tried to murder a person in a parked car and then he killed himself. To say the least, it was a very unnerving experience.
I am not a novice regarding death. It has been a part of most of my life. I was only ten years old when my oldest brother was killed in World War II. Several members of my family and my wife’s family have died.
As a preacher and friend, I have been associated with death in many ways. I have in been in a hospital room when the spirit of a Christian lady took flight, relieving her of the intense pain caused by cancer. I have entered a hospital room just seconds after a small boy gave up the struggle with death and his precious soul went to be with the Lord. I vividly recall the Sunday evening, as I was about to get into my car to go to worship when my neighbor cried for help. Her husband was dying with a heart attack. I tried in vain to get assistance but my friend died while his wife and I stood helplessly by, praying and hoping that the rescue squad would arrive in time. And I have lost track of the occasions when I have been with grieving families when death came to claim their loved ones but I had never seen a person take his own life. You just don’t forget such a horrible scene.
Life is so precious. Man was made in the likeness of his Creator (Genesis 1:26, 27). Cain was sorely punished for taking the life of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:9-15). God has prescribed punishment for wicked people who have no respect for human life (Genesis 9:5, 6). “You shall not murder” was a part of the law of God given to Israel (Exodus 20:13). Jesus even restricts our intimate thoughts regarding our feelings for others (Matthew 5:21, 22). The civil government is commissioned to render punishment to violators who take the life of their fellowman (Romans 13).
Self-destruction gives the offender no opportunity of repentance, reform and forgiveness. Only God knows the state of mind of the individual committing suicide. Mental disorders sometimes motivate the deed. Some, however, have no regard for human life, even their own. How sad for the spirit of a man to be hurled into eternity without God and without hope.
As children of light in a world of darkness (Philippians 2:15), we should endeavor to inform others of God’s love (John 3:16), the value of man and his soul, the salvation in Christ and the assurance and hope for the Christian. We should teach them that life can be beautiful and meaningful; and, there are no problems so great but that we can find help from God and His people
Fatalism is the fruit of living in a world apart from God who loves and is caring. Our present society is trying to solve problems without His divine guidance. It can never be done, individually or collectively. Christ is still the hope of mankind. It is the privilege of the Christian to teach the message of redemption and hope to a world seemingly determined to destroy itself.