"A Living Hope"
October 28, 2008
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
In the course of my parish ministry, I have seen suicides.
Those who took their lives were of different ages, genders, and situations. Even so, there were things those deaths had in common. They were all terrible; they were all tragic, and they didn't solve any problems. They only shifted those problems from the deceased to those who were left behind trying to deal with a multitude of unanswered questions.
Maybe that's why, last week when Reuters reported a change in America's suicide statistics, I took special note.
The changes reported were shocking. From 1999 to 2005, our national suicide rate rose .7 percent. During that same period, suicides of middle-aged Caucasian men rose 2.7 percent and middle-aged white women soared 3.9 percent.
Many explanations are being put forth to explain the dramatic increase.
Economic downturns, unhappy families, frustration, discouragement, and personal depression are all listed as candidates causing the escalation.
There are a lot of reasons that might motivate someone to take his or her own life. Some of those reasons may be familiar to you or someone close to you.
This is why, without trying to oversimplify the situation, I want to say that no matter what state of affairs you find yourself in, Jesus and His representatives can help. You may think your future holds only darkness. Jesus is the Light and He has counselors, congregations, pastors, and people around you who will be glad to reflect that light. You may be brought down with doubt and depression, but the Savior wishes to give help -- sometimes personal, sometimes medical, sometimes spiritual -- to lift you up.
The risen Savior can bring you up...
... as He did Saint Paul who had committed murder
... as He did St. Peter who had denied and deserted Him
... as He did Thomas who spoke out in doubt
... as He wished to do for Judas who betrayed Him.
By the Savior's sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit's power, you can be born again -- both spiritually and mentally.
This is the risen Savior's message for the select few of you who are toying with the idea of suicide -- and for many of you who are close to someone who is having a very hard time with life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, over the centuries, You have transformed lives. Now, I pray that You will bring happiness and hope to those who are in darkness. And, if I can be of help, use me to Your purpose. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries