The recent suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain shocked our nation and brought face-to-face with the sad epidemic of suicide. Their untimely deaths drew me to a fascinating story in Acts 16 where we find Paul and Silas in jail, praying and singing hymns at midnight. Suddenly, an earthquake shakes the foundations of the prison. The prison doors fly open and the chains fall away from all the prisoners. The earthquake also awakens the jailer from his sleep. He rushes to the jail where he finds the prison doors open. Knowing that he would be executed for allowing the prisoners to escape, the jailer draws his sword and is about to commit suicide when he hears a voice calling out to him from the depths of the dark prison.
“Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” It was the voice of Paul.
I pray that if someone you know should ever draw a sword, as it were, to commit suicide, that you would be there to call out, “Don’t harm yourself! I’m right here with you! And I will sit with you in this dark prison until you put away your sword and come to the realization that there is no reason for you to take your life.”
Of course, professional help may come into play, but did you notice that Paul and Silas were free? Their chains had been broken, but they stayed in that prison anyway. I believe it’s because they knew they were needed there; they were there for the sake of the jailer. He had the keys to the jail, but he was not free, so he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And the answer was profoundly simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” And in a matter of moments, the jailer went from the brink of death to being filled with joy because some called out to him from the darkness and said, “Don’t harm yourself! We are here with you and we are here for you!”
The flip side of that concerns those who may be contemplating suicide: you may think you have a good reason to end your life, but the reality is that you have a much better reason to live. God loved you so much that he sent his only Son to die for you, so you don’t have to die for yourself. Please listen for the people who you may think have left you all alone: they’re still there for you. You may not see them because of the darkness that seems to be engulfing you, but they’re there. And they’re there for you. Please listen for them as they call out to you: “Don’t harm yourself! I’m here for you!”
Yours for the mission,