August was a heart–rending month, both because of the war in Israel and the needless deaths of Gazan civilians because their terrorist government used them as human shields, the brave IDF soldiers who lost their lives defending their country, the Israeli civilians who were killed by shrapnel from Hamas's rockets and mortars, and an unhappy event that occurred closer to home.
A young girl of my acquaintance took her life. She was only 19 years old. Deborah had a loving family, she was beautiful and talented, and had everything to live for, but she jumped off of the Patullo Bridge. So why did she do it? Despair. But what brought on this despair? She took a synthetic drug that triggered psychosis. Where is she now? I believe that Deborah is in Heaven. But not everyone who commits suicide goes to Heaven.
Many Christians would say that it is impossible for a suicide to go to Heaven, but God considers more than just the act itself when He judges a situation. He considers the person's ability to think rationally. Deborah's brain was injured, and in addition to the injury, she was on medication that made her feel like a zombie. I know what that is like.
I experienced it in 1986, after my husband left me, and I suffered a nervous breakdown, as a result. My emotions had become too painful to deal with, so I buried them where I couldn't feel them. The absence of emotions is like being dead while still walking around, but I was blessed to get healed from this problem. My emotions came back and, in spite of their painful intensity, I thanked God that I was able to feel again. It reassured me that I was still human.
Even so, during that time, my life was in a holding pattern. I wanted to die to get relief from that sense of being in limbo, and I think that Deborah felt the same. She had been a fun-loving teen who wanted to party, but woke up one day in shock to find herself in hospital due to horrific side effects of drug use.
It's not just synthetic drugs that are dangerous; all recreational drugs are dangerous. They kill brain cells, impair judgment, and, if their use becomes habitual, they cause users to regress emotionally. Deborah was very sorry that she had damaged herself in this way and she was desperate to be healed.
Deborah turned to the Lord Jesus at this time. She put a lot of hard work into trying to get her life on track through reading the Bible. She read it from cover to cover twice in only a four month period, underlining many verses that stood out to her as especially significant in her situation. She attended church, made connections with other Christians and spent time with them, and she arranged to be baptized.
It seemed that she had hopes and expectations that her baptism would bring about the healing of her brain that she longed for. She thought she would instantly feel different when she came out of the water. The Christian walk, though, it not a walk that is based on emotions or on supernatural experiences. It is a walk of faith, trusting in the truth of God's Word, and Deborah was too new in her faith to realize this.
One of the things that helped me get through my nervous breakdown is that I learned very soon in my walk with Jesus that I had to rely on what the Word of God says, and not how I feel. A pastor explained it to me like this: Faith is like the engine of a train, experience is the boxcar, and joy is the caboose. Joy cannot be the engine because we don't always feel joy. Experiences cannot be the engine. What happens if you don't get the experiences you want to receive, such as a healing, or financial provision, or a restored relationship? Faith will keep the train rolling along the track, regardless of delayed answers to prayer, or if we asked for something that wasn't good for us to have, or when we feel depressed.
Depression makes people behave irrationally; it blows problems way out of proportion. It is trusting in what God says in His Word that puts things in proper perspective and helps us see what to do about them. Problems are never solved by alcohol or drugs or other escapes; it just adds to one's problems. Deborah found herself saddled with mental illness due to drug damage.
She was sorry that she took drugs. She repented. If a person breaks their leg due to taking on a foolish dare, it's a sin, but they can repent of behaving foolishly. They still have to deal with the broken leg, though.
Normally, a person with a broken leg would give it time to heal before they jump again on a trampoline or hop over a fence or enter a race. If circumstances press them into vigorous activity before that leg is healed, such as they have to leap across a chasm to save their life, and they don't make it because their leg is not strong enough, they are not at fault in their death. God does not say, "Well, if you hadn't taken that stupid dare and broken your leg, you would have been able to make it to the other side." No, when He forgives, He also forgets their sin. All He sees is that His child was in peril and needed to leap across the chasm, but they were impaired by their broken leg.
Deborah tried to leap across a chasm from childhood to adult responsibility, but she didn't know how she could make it. She could learn skills, but she couldn't cope in the workplace, unless her brain was healed, which would increase her ability to reason and to control her emotions. She really didn't want to die; she wanted to live, but she wanted to live as a healthy person who could handle normal life. She wanted her baptism to heal her and help her be the fully-functioning, responsible person that she longed to be. She wanted baptism to be the barricade that would keep her from ending her life.
Baptism is a very significant and powerful event in a person's life, but it doesn't work that way. It has nothing to do with the emotions; it relates to a person's will. It is a statement that goes out to the spiritual realm, announcing that the person has committed their life to Jesus Christ. Water baptism brings the person into a greater realm of faith, but the knowledge of how much more powerful a Christian is than the forces of darkness is something that a Christian learns as they dig deeper into God's Word, meditate on it, and walk in their covenant rights. Some Christians catch on quickly and see miracles happen frequently through their prayers, but for some, it takes longer to purify their faith to that extent.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick. When Deborah felt no different after her baptism, she thought that it either meant she would never be healed, or that it would be a very long time before she got healed. The pain of these prospects was more than she thought she could endure.
Is God going to judge her for not being able to make it across the chasm? What difference is it, if the reason for one's death is because they had a broken leg and it's weak or because they had an injured brain and were confused?
Deborah repented of drug and alcohol use and demonstrated, in various ways, that she wanted to live for God. I believe that, though it certainly was not God's will for Deborah to take her life, in His mercy, He allowed it to end her pain.
Does that mean that I endorse euthanasia? Absolutely not! And to assist suicide is an even worse sin. Who are we to judge how much pain a person can endure, to assume that they are weak, when they may be capable of enduring more than they think they can, and their pain may actually be a turning point in their life? It may be the very thing that, at long last, makes them cry out to God and receive Jesus as their Saviour of their soul, if not their Healer. And there is the possibility that, if they look to Him as their Healer, as well, they will be healed and God glorified by their miracle, and that person may go on to do some amazing things in their life.
It's a grievous sin to take one's life, but if a person doesn't know what they are doing, it's not the same. That doesn't give anyone an easy out, though. God judges each case separately, and you may not pass His inspection when He looks deep into the soul.
If a person figures that, if they take some drugs and scramble their brains, then if they kill themselves, they won't be held responsible because they didn't know what they were doing, it won't wash. God is likely to consider what they were thinking before they took the drugs and judge the intentions of their heart at that point.
Also, even if a person is mentally ill, God knows to what degree their judgment is impaired, and it may not be as impaired as they pretend it is; they might be using their illness as an excuse to get away with misbehaviour that they are actually able to control.
God forbid that anyone would take such a risk with their precious soul. Eternity is for a long time. If a person ends up in the bad place, there's no way out. Suicide rarely ends one's suffering. Our consciousness never ceases; it either lives on in the Presence of God, with all its attendant joys, through having sincerely repenting of our sins, or is cast out into darkness and loneliness and despair forever through the choice to continue in rebellion against God.
I suppose that nobody can say for certain where Deborah is now, because only God is adequately equipped to judge souls, but I am comforted that she made choices and changes in her life, in these last few months, strongly indicating that she wanted to serve Jesus, and God has been giving comforting signs since her death that point to a favourable decision made in her case.
I don't feel that Deborah has actually died, but rather that she has just changed her address and is living with the Lord. She has left her shell behind, but if we learn the lessons that God wanted us to learn from her life, we can be with her again, and with the Everlasting Father, when we cast off our mortal shells.
If you disagree with my view that not all suicides go to Hell, and you are on facebook, please refrain from making comments on there that could possibly be read by Deborah's family, or by others who have lost loved ones through suicide. If you are so crass as to state your contrary OPINION in a situation like this, even if you think you are rightly interpreting the Bible, you are a TROLL. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is kind, and if we don't have love, we are nothing more than sounding brass and tinkling cymbals – a nuisance, an annoyance, and nothing like God in our character.
If you are contemplating suicide, please do not take such a dangerous chance with your precious soul. Call out to God instead, and embrace His plans for your life. "Give thanks to God, regardless of circumstances; fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." [Psalm 50:14 & 15 paraphrased]
I wrote a poem about Deborah, to comfort her family, and it made a powerful impact on them. God was certainly in it, for it took me only two hours to write, it came so easily. Deborah's three sisters read it at her funeral and one of the ladies at the funeral said that it comforted them all.
Additionally, the loving arms of God surrounded this family with signals of His help, such as how quickly Deborah's body was found, and in very good shape, so that they were able to conduct the funeral with an open coffin, to help those who needed to see her body in order to obtain closure.
Also, a book by Kat Kerr about Heaven, that I had waited four months after ordering it, finally showed up the very day that Deborah's mother informed me of the suicide and asked me to come visit the family. I saw it with my mail just as I was leaving to go there, and took it along with me to comfort the family, for God wanted them to know what Deborah's life in Heaven is like.
Kat said that all of those who go to Heaven get to see their funeral. I saw Deborah in my spirit several times at her funeral. It is like video conferencing. The person is not there physically, but they can participate. The first was just a glimpse, as she kissed me on my cheek, and I knew she kissed everyone on the cheek, in the spirit, who attended the funeral.
The second time, I saw her standing at the front by her coffin looking at everybody. She wore beautiful white robes and had diamonds in her hair, and she was taller. I think she probably harboured a secret desire to be as tall as her older sisters; maybe it was something she wished in childhood and forgot about, but God never forgets the desires of our hearts.
The third time was when the last song was played and I saw her dancing to it, her full sleeves gracefully billowing around her arms, as she twirled at the front of the church.
The fourth time I saw her in my spirit was at the gravesite, where she stood on the opposite side of the grave observing everyone, looking like a queen, with a serene smile on her face and her hands calmly folded in front of her.
The fifth time was when her coffin was lowered in the ground, and she stood in front of her mother, this time only as tall as her mother, so that she could look directly in her face. She held her mother's face in her hands, and spoke comfortingly to her. I did not hear what Deborah said, but the look on her face was very tender and she must have been telling her mother that everything was all right.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, do not give up hope that they went to Heaven. Even if they were not a Christian, to your knowledge, they may very well have given their heart to Jesus at the end. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you get to Heaven and find out for sure. I know a lady whose daughter took rat poison to kill herself, and lingered in the hospital for six days before she died. During that time, a Christian nurse risked her job to lead that girl to the Lord.
There is also the case of Ian McCormack, who was roving around the world as a beach bum, looking for good times, delving into eastern religions, when he got stung four times by box jellyfish, while scuba diving in Mauritius. The sting of one box jellyfish kills within fifteen minutes. Miraculously, Ian survived various adventures up until he arrived at a hospital, long past the time that he should have died.
During the ambulance ride, he saw his mother in a vision, urging him to call upon Jesus to save him, and he saw the words of the Lord's Prayer appear before his eyes, to help him pray. He died after he arrived at the hospital, and spoke to Jesus, who gave him the choice to return, and he chose to return so that his mother would not think he had gone to Hell.
Additionally, Jesus totally healed him, so that he walked out of that hospital only hours later, much to the shock of his friends, who thought he was a ghost when they saw him. The story of these amazing events was made into a movie called A GLIMPSE OF ETERNITY.
Don't ever give up on believing for your family's salvation. Even if circumstances at the end seem to indicate that their life ended in defeat, remember that it is Jesus who always gets the last word. It is He who will judge. It is He who knows all about what was in your loved one's heart at the end, but do not take any chances with your own soul. Do not wait until the end of your life to surrender to Jesus. You might not be given a warning that the end is close at hand, nor will your "surrender" be accepted, if it is not sincere.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 says to remember your Creator in your youth, when you are strong and can give your strength to His service and have maximum time to build an inheritance in Heaven, and also so that you can avoid a lot of cruddy experiences, such as heart–breaking affairs, grungy nightclubs and the sordid things to be seen there, drunken nights that end with puking in a toilet, raucous parties where you can get into trouble, meddling with the occult, and all sorts of other things that make for horrible memories and deep bondages. Put good things into your mind to shape your life – read wholesome books, make friends with people who have character, find people who are good role models to mentor you, talk to God and listen to what He has to say. In His Presence, you will find the noble destiny that God designed for you.
If you're not so young anymore, don't let yourself get any older before making better decisions, the best of which is to turn away from your sins and receive Jesus as your Saviour. The woman at the well in Samaria was old enough to have had five husbands and one live–in partner, but when she met the One who could fill her soul with the love she was longing for, she turned to Him in an instant.
I close with the poem that I wrote in memory of Deborah:
Deborah of the sparkling eyes, deep dimples, and dazzling smile,
What were you thinking, dear girl, when you went through your last trial?
You left us clues, as you searched the Bible to soothe your cares;
Highlighted verses are windows to your thoughts, witnesses to your prayers.
We are comforted that, though you stumbled and fell,
You looked to Jesus to save you from sin and Hell.
He forgave you; we know that it is true;
He came into your heart, with its walls that were painted blue.
Such a sad, sad heart, such a troubled mind,
Triggered by a drug that promised good times you'd find.
You yearned to be accepted and to have fun with your friends,
And became deceived, like many, by youthful trends.
Jesus spared your life, after drugs sent you in a spin.
And gave you time to repent of each besetting sin.
You reached for His hand, and He led you through His Word;
Twice you read His Book, and much in it you heard.
What a comfort to us now, to see the words you underlined.
And know that your name in the Book of Life is signed;
Written there by the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord;
We know His grace and mercy, upon you He has poured.
You were just starting to walk the path of the wise,
And were too unlearned to discern the deceiver's lies.
You thought that waters of baptism would your confusion all unwind,
And instantly produce a miracle of healing for your mind.
Significant and powerful, baptism is indeed,
But it is through faith that we get what we need.
It is not through feelings, nor experiences, nor the reasoning of our brain,
But through constant trust in God's Word, the victory we gain.
God understands what drove you to the decision you would make,
And allowed the enemy of your soul, your precious life to take.
But He did not let him keep it, when you plunged into the water;
He caught you in His arms, His beloved, redeemed daughter.
Now you live in Heaven, where all your fears are washed away;
And you are free to love and laugh and play.
Though our heart sorrows for the loss of our dear girl,
We know you are now safe within the gates of pearl.
We cherish memories, of how you loved cookie dough ice cream,
And how you could sing and play music like a dream.
Your favourite colours were blue and pink, and you liked the dollar mart;
Pink roses and red roses, and perfume charmed your heart.
You had a photographic memory, and a photogenic face;
Your athletic ability and energy set a lively pace.
Swimming was a favourite sport, and chess a favourite game;
Which your Grandpa taught you because you were such a clever dame.
But kindness was part of you, and generosity, as well.
And humour, too, for silly jokes you liked to hear and tell.
Family and friends were high priorities on your list;
Oh, dear girl, how sorely you will be missed!
But when the tears start to run, we will wipe them with a smile,
As we remember the blessing you were, when we had you for a while.
We will think of you when we hear Hillsong's tunes,
And when spring returns each year with its pretty blooms.
We will recall how you organized our closets and our drawers,
And how you loved dogs and kittens and willingly did your chores.
Brindle pup and Moonshine kitty will join you in Heaven someday;
Look after them for us, Deborah, until we come Home to stay.
Let our family circle be unbroken in that celestial realm;
We know our ship will make it, as long as we keep Jesus at the helm.
We don't fully understand God's ways or know all His plans,
But everything will work out, as we remain in His strong hands.
We will look into our Saviour's eyes, and all our pain will be no more,
As it is now for you, gazing upon Him whom you adore.
Revel in His embrace, as you to dance among the stars above;
We release you to His tender care and never ending love.
Copyright © 2014, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on September 2, 2014
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.