“A Word for this Week” - Pastor Bill Mugnolo
Week of June 18-24, 2018: “Amidst a World Filled with Hopelessness” ... Psalm 32:3-5
Usually, I base this weekly devotion upon the message that I’d given the previous weekend. But this week, I’d like to address a wide scale societal issue that has very much been in the news because of several recent high-profile celebrity deaths. Suicide has very much been on the increase in our country. I’ve read accounts that say that the suicide rate has gone up by thirty percent over the past two decades. Then, there are those who would also say that the various forms of substance abuse are, for many, a “slower” way of taking their own lives.
So why such hopelessnessespecially in a country that is as materially prosperous as ours? I certainly won’t discount that a person’s physiological makeup and past traumatic experiences factor into why they might want to end their lives. But there are, I very much believe, spiritual factors involved as to why suicide is on the rise.
First, there is the increased activity of the old evil foe, Satan. He certainly is, as Jesus says, “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). He is surely becoming even more murderous as his own time is drawing short (Revelation 20:7-10). Almost five hundred years ago, Martin Luther wrote about the devil, in his Large Catechism, “Many he hounds to suicide and other dreadful catastrophes”. This seems to be even more so the case today.
Then, as many peopleespecially among the younghave deserted the Church, there is less and less a sense of people being accountable before God for their actions. How many possible suicides, in the past, were averted because a person, deep down, feared the eternal judgment of God if they took such a drastic measure? But more and more, as Paul says in Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Thirdly, is a factor so blindly dismissed by so many: people take their own lives because they cannot bear the weight of the guilt that comes from certain unconfessed sin in their lives (as an example: in twenty-eight years as a pastor I have seen both women and men who are devastatedsometimes years after the factbecause they had been involved in an abortion). King David recalled his own guilt that he felt over his unconfessed sins of murder and adultery when he wrote, in Psalm 32:3-4, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
But in the next verse, we see where David found his hope: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity if my sin.” To this, I would add, from 1 John 1:7, “… and the blood of Jesus His (God’s) Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Maybe some of you who are reading these words have struggled over wanting, at times, to take your own life. While God’s commandment, “Thou shall not kill” applies also to suicide, we can find grace in Christ in our time of great need. Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Then, Jesus says, Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Amidst a world filled with hopelessness, Christ is our hope and our strength. I would also add here, if you have struggled with this life and death issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at (585) 472-0266 (cell) or at (440) 324-4070 (Church) or at my e-mail at email@example.com . May Christ’s abiding peace by with you.
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