When asked to discuss suicide in the
Bible, most people point out Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Recently I
began to meditate on Matthew 27 and tried to imagine what was going through
Judas’ mind when he betrayed Jesus. Did he know the chief priests wanted to
kill Jesus? Did he think they were going to give him a position in the church
or community that would usher in the new kingdom? What exactly was he hoping
Whatever Judas thought, we know that he
was deeply grieved by the actual events that followed his betrayal.
We, like Judas, rationalize our sin. We
try to justify why it is ok to betray the ones we love (through gossip and deception)
by convincing ourselves that it is really in their best interest. Rarely does
the outcome bring our intended results.
When Judas heard that Jesus had been
condemned, he was “seized with remorse.” In other words, Judas was consumed with guilt.
He tried to soothe his guilty conscience by giving back the silver, but the
elders basically said, “Sorry man. The deed is done.” In anguish and shame, Judas cried out, “I have
sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
I wonder if the other disciples knew what
Judas had done. As far as we know, he didn’t confess his sin to the other
disciples. If he had, would they have forgiven him or would they have shunned
him? Regardless, Judas felt more alone than ever before. His guilt was
unbearable…he could not carry the burden of his sin. Judas only saw one way out of the
insufferable pain – death. “Then he went away and hanged himself.”
September is Suicide Prevention Month.
Millions of people die by suicide each year. I have spoken with numerous women
who lost their husband’s to suicide. Many of these men lived with guilt and
regret (from affairs, poor financial decisions, deceit, hypocrisy, drug and
alcohol abuse, and more). Sadly, these men believed that their sins were
unforgiveable and they were consumed with guilt and shame, and lost all hope.
I want to clarify the difference between
guilt and conviction. Conviction leads to repentance and change. Guilt
continues to berate us and remind us of how terrible we are. The former brings
restoration, while the latter breeds self-deprecation and shame.
Judas was seized with remorse; he was
filled with regret. I’ve yet to meet anyone who survived a suicide attempt that
didn’t live with some form of regret. Many letters left behind from those who
died by suicide also express regret…there are times when the person doesn’t
really want to die, but only want to live without the pain – whether physical
I don’t think Judas wanted to die; when he
left the temple, he threw the silver coins back into the temple. This was an
act of desperation; he could no longer live with the knowledge of his betrayal.
Death seemed his only out.
I’ve heard it said that suicide is a permanent
solution to a temporary problem. While this may be true, suicide merely shifts
the pain of the one who dies to the ones left behind. When my first husband
died, he transferred his pain to our family and friends as we sought to make
sense of his death.
Georgia has the highest attempted suicide
rate in the nation, while Delaware has the lowest (SAMSHA, 2009). What can we
do to help individuals who are contemplating suicide?
First and foremost, we can listen. Research
revealed that in 80% - 90% of all suicides, the person has told someone of
their intent prior to taking their lives. These are often cries for help. Don’t
take a threat lightly. For more information on how you can help someone, click
I want to leave you with the words of the
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And
why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise
Him, for the help of his presence.”
No matter what you are going through,
there is hope! Cling to that hope, and when you feel like you’ve lost hope,
reach out to someone you love…sometimes hope may seem hidden, but it is always
there. Better yet – God is always there; He is on the throne. He sees your
pain. He cares. You can trust him.
Labels: Death, Suicide