It is heartbreaking to read of the deaths by suicide of such young pastors like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein. Suicide is such a complex issue and it is hard for the Christian community to understand how such vibrant men of God could take their own lives.
Both suffered from depression and anxiety, and it is too easy to label these spiritual roots as "mental illness" and "a disease". I want to be sure you understand that I do not speak as a medical or psychological expert. I have no degree that gives me secular authority to speak on the subject. I can only share my experience as a follower of Christ who continues my Lord's commission to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release the prisoners from their darkness.
Yes, I believe that suicide is an attack upon the mind of people, both believers and non-believers. But through the ministry that we've been called to, my husband and I know that the mind is a battlefield and the Father of Lies can cause so much pain with his false whispers. And, yes, we've been instructed to keep our helmet of salvation tight upon our heads to protect our minds, but the Bible tells us that the Enemy is cunning; he is a murderer from the beginning, and that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I lay suicide at the feet of the one who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I will tell you that Mark and I have encountered suicide in our ministry and it nearly devastated us. In respect for this individual and his family, I will not mention his name or details, but I will tell you this... just like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein, this young man deeply loved the Lord. And as I sat with him during a session a couple of months before his death, I was overwhelmed with the spiritual sense of how much Jesus loved him! He was one of the most loving and beautiful human beings I've ever met, and I was only in his physical presence once. But he was believing a lie from the pit of hell. His pain came from the fear that Jesus would be unable to forgive him, and that spirit of fear led to spirits of anxiety and stress, and perhaps even self-hatred. But I knew Jesus loved him! We tortured ourselves with thoughts that if we could only have been better at helping him to believe that Christ's love was for him, too, maybe he would still be here.
But we quickly understood that the Enemy was lying to us, as well, and if he could get us to stop trying to set the captives free from his lies, then maybe we would stop our ministry. No way, Satan! If anything, we would pursue freedom for others even harder, in honor of our young friend. Because, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me that Jesus was right there with him, as the Enemy roared in his mind, and our Lord told him it was time for the torment to stop and it was okay to come home. I am not saying that Jesus agreed to his suicide. But I believe that Jesus was there with him when he capitulated to the Enemy's continued torment. And yes, I am one who does not believe that suicide leads to hell. Depression is a physical manifestation of spiritual attacks caused by fear, self-hatred and guilt.
One of the things that helped Mark and I to heal from the pain of suicide was the information we gleaned from Dr. Henry Wright's book, A More Excellent Way; Be In Health. Dr. Wright is the Senior Pastor of Hope of the Generations Church in Thomaston, Georgia. Dr. Wright has dedicated his life to God and helping others find the spiritual roots to disease so they can live in wholeness. He holds a doctorate of Christian Therapeutic Counseling from Chesapeake Bible College in Ridgely, Maryland. This is what he writes about Depression:
"You need to know what the medical community is not telling you ... Your homeostasis (equilibrium in the body with respect to various functions and chemical composition of fluids and tissues) is controlled by the release of various hormones. You are very chemical in your creation. You are very nuclear, you are very sexual, you are very spiritual, but you are also very chemical. You have a number of organs and glands, particularly in the endocrine system, which secrete a particular chemical. It goes like this: a squirt here, a squirt there, here a squirt, there a squirt, squirt, squirt, everywhere a squirt, squirt.
And your Enemy knows he can control the rate of your squirts by your thoughts and by your soul and by your spirit. Your Enemy knows things like bitterness and guilt and fear, if allowed to remain within your consciousness, can be used to control you. When your spiritual dynamics are compromised by the Enemy in a manner in which he can control your body and your chemistry, then he can put depression or any other psychological or biological malfunction on you when he feels like it.
He can do this because depression, by definition, is no more and no less than a chemical imbalance in the body induced externally or internally. Your Enemy knows that if he can get you "unspiritual" and he can manipulate you in areas of lack of sanctification, then he can control your very thought process.
And when Satan can control your thought process, he can also control your chemistry. When you have serotonin deficiencies, you do not feel good about yourself because there is a deficiency of the chemical God created in you to make you feel good chemically. For every thought you have, conscious or unconscious, there is a nerve transmission, a secretion of a hormone or neurotransmitter somewhere in your body to react to it.
When you start listening to fear, you start listening to self-hatred, you start listening to guilt, you start listening to rejection, and then your body secretes chemicals in response to those spiritual attacks that are counterproductive to your peace. Your Enemy knows this very well. But you do not have to be a victim nor do you have to be ignorant nor do you have to die of a disease and go to heaven to find out why you died."
This is just a portion of Dr. Wright's book and I would recommend that if you desire to know more about the spiritual roots of many physical illnesses, then this book is for you. Of course, I do not claim to know the personal issues that both of these well-loved young pastors faced. But I believe that Dr. Wright's discernment on the spiritual roots that lead to suicide have a lot of credibility. And I know that Jarrid Wilson's wife is absolutely correct when she says she knows her husband is in HIS Presence! Jesus's death on the Cross pays for all of our sins... all of our sins. So, my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. We don't always get all the answers to what drives someone to that decision, but we can know that our Lord, full of compassion and mercy, cancels all our sins as He reconciles us to God, the Father. This is the beauty of Mercy triumphing over Judgment.
Romans 8:38-39 So now I live with the
confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to
separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph
over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our
present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There
is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in
the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is
lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!