Mercy Witness

Why Not Suicide?

It as the reluctant philosopher Albert Camus who said, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”

There was a time when I could not answer this question.

After being raised in the church, I walked away from the faith during my college years. You could say that the process began in high school, but that is a story for another day. The best way to describe me at that point would have been a deistic evolutionist. I was only concerned with knowledge that could be proven in a laboratory. Yet I was not foolish enough to say that the universe came from nothing. There must have been some cause, and whatever that cause was I considered to be God. I was unwilling to say who or what that God was. For all practical purposes, I was an atheist.

For years I devoted myself to the study of the natural sciences assuming that, if there was a God or a purpose to this existence of ours, surely we could find it through the power of reason. Yet, the deeper I delved, the more folly I found, just as it says in Ecclesiastes, “In much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecc. 1:18) I would spend my time looking out of my dorm window, observing the people as they walked across the campus, each with their own hopes, dreams, and ambitions. I realized that, ultimately, none of it truly mattered. As the Psalmist wrote, “When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day, his plans perish.” (Psalms 146:4) I realized that even the most gifted doctor, although he considers his profession to be noble, can do nothing more than delay an inevitable death, and even in this endeavor, he has no certainty. I stared at the world and saw an abyss. Without God, I found no answer.

It was a dark time. I felt hopeless and worthless. Just a speck of dust on this hunk of rock spinning through space. But that all changed thanks to a girl who wouldn’t eat so much as a gummy bear without saying grace.

She wasn’t instructed on the particulars of the faith. She could not tell you the difference between a Lutheran and Presbyterian. What she had was real. All that she had to offer what Christ crucified for sinners. It evident by her daily life that she believed in the gospel and that it was real for her. There was a lack of hypocrisy that I had witnessed in so many Christians before her. It was her influence that made me reconsider the faith that I had previously walked away from.

One night, against all my sensibilities and philosophies, in a moment of desperation, I cried out, “God, help me.” I didn’t know what else to do. It was at that moment that everything changed. After that, I became sick for three days and, being confined to my bed, did nothing but read the New Testament that my grandfather had given me. Some of the changes came quickly. I remember listening to my iTunes playlist and deleting much of it because I felt that it dishonored God. Other changes came slowly. There are still moments when I temporarily slip back into that dark place that I escaped, but now I have the truth which sets me free.

The philosophies of the world make many promises: World peace, tranquility, self-satisfaction, health and wealth, success. They are all lies. The truth is that nothing has value or meaning apart from God. Apart from God, our little kingdoms are just sad little sand piles waiting to be washed away by the tide, erased from all memory. Without God, there is no answer to the question. But I have found, or rediscovered, the answer. Why not suicide? Because I have a God who loves me. I have a savior who came down from Heaven to die on a cross so that I may live. Although I was a wicked sinner, and God would have been just to leave me to my fate, He loved me anyway.

I have grown in faith since then. I have moments where I slide or slip, but God has been faithful through it all. I am not the man I ought to be, but by God’s grace, I am no longer the man that I was. I rest on His promises, knowing that I am His.

See you on Sunday.

About the author

James Herbert Helms, Jr.

James Helms is a budget analyst who lives with his wife and two daughters in Maryland near the border of Washington, D.C. He holds a Master of Divinity from Liberty University. His intention is to eventually become a pastor within the LCMS. His local congregation is Redeemer Lutheran (LCMS) in Hyattsville, MD.

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