Brief Reflection on the Suicide of a Pastor

A pastor of a large Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation killed himself on Friday, August 26, 2016. He left behind a wife and two teenage children. Left in the wake of his death is also a grieving congregation. A google search will turn up more details, but I am choosing to omit the dead man's name.

You go on the Facebook page of the church he served, and you can feel the anguish of his sheep. The questions, the fear, the doubt, the shock, all apparent. Why did this happen? Who could see this coming? Author David Sedaris once wrote, in the aftermath of his sister's suicide, "Doesn't the blood of every suicide splash back on our faces?"

By Juleen Studio — Everett, Washington. [Public Domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
Before he died, this man posted on Facebook a quote from Christian writer Christine Caine, "Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted." Shortly after beginning his pastoral call at his Arizonian Presbyterian Church, this man told a local reporter that “Methodists, Baptists and others go looking for God. We believe that God is always there, that you don’t fit God into your life, but see how your life fits into God.” People who closely knew the pastor said his favorite biblical quote was Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God's purpose."

He was a good Presbyterian.

Depression is a liar. The lie depression tells you is that you are not good, and nothing good can ever come to pass. The chemicals in your brain tell you that you are fallen, that you are broken, and that there is no light shining in this darkness. You cannot see yourself, your broken existence, planted into God's story. Grace exists, but it seems foreign. It seems outside of you, because in the depressed state, there is no God who is with us. There is only darkness.

Depression is a liar. It is an invading power that consumes your being. It is not a consequence of sin, but a tool of the devil. And like the devil, and like all evil things, in He who is Alpha and Omega, depression will come to an end. This is the truth of the gospel.

Depression is a liar, and sometimes liars win. But liars never have the final word.

Let us pray for our fallen brother. Let us pray in the confidence of the resurrection and in the hope of the lux aeterna. He sees darkness no more.

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." - 1 Corinthians 15:52


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