An Uncertain Eternity
Are you uncertain about a deceased loved one’s eternity? Perhaps your loved one died by suicide or murder; or extenuating circumstances surrounding the death included mental illness. These scenarios make the grief process more complicated. It’s during these times that the unrelenting “Whys?” plague us unmercifully. We may be tormented by the question, “Where is my loved one now and for all eternity?” There is so much we don’t understand that happens at the moment of death, simply because you and I have not experienced it yet.
However, there is one thing we can be positively certain about: Everything in the Bible is true because it is God’s inerrant Word. God numbered our days before we were ever born (Psalm 139:16). He understands our every thought (1 Chron. 28:9). His abundant mercy, grace, and faithfulness run deep and are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (Matt. 19:30). Also, there are some things in this life that we will never know or fully understand because they are secret and belong to God alone (Deut. 29:29 and Jud. 13:18).
Acts 28:1-6 is an interesting story of Paul on the island of Malta. We are so much like the islanders who are quick to judge Paul without knowing anything about him. “This man must be a murderer” quickly changed to, “He is a god!” Both conclusions were dreadfully wrong. Likewise, who are we to judge another?
We make unfounded judgments every day concerning people and situations about which we know nothing. Nowhere does this come into sharper focus than in another’s eternity when it is death by suicide. The Bible never teaches that suicide is the unforgivable sin. It is definitely wrong and should never be contemplated. However, only God knows the condition of the human spirit at the point of death, for it is a private moment between Almighty God and that soul He created. He alone is qualified to determine eternal destination. (See Matt. 7:1 and Ps. 96:10)
We overstep our boundaries into God’s jurisdiction when we say, “Because that person took their own life, he or she is in hell today.” We don’t know that. Rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God who is the only way, the truth, and the life paves the way to everlasting damnation (John 12:48 and 14:6). We serve a just, holy, and merciful God who always does the right thing (Gen. 18:25).
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 KJV).
When I step into heaven one day and in the course of eternity see people I never thought would be there, I will rejoice exuberantly. When I notice that people I loved on earth are not in heaven, I will still enthusiastically praise my Jesus forever and ever! Why? Because the One who died for me is always worthy of praise, and because heaven is pure joy. Until that day, I will follow Him closely, love His Word, guard my heart (Pro. 4:23), and rejoice in Him (Phil. 4:4). I find my hope, peace, and strength in Him. He uses many different resources to help me heal from grief; among them are prayer, the Bible, church, family, friends, time, and www.griefshare.org.
We may be uncertain about someone’s eternity, but God isn’t. No one other than our Lord himself can know the depths of depression or illness out of which the decision to end one’s life may have sprung. Suicide entails reasoned and deliberate action. However, one who is clinically depressed or emotionally unbalanced is not normally regarded as fully responsible. Therefore, questions that deal with eternal destiny cannot be decided by the survivors. They must be left in the hands of God who is all knowing, all loving, and forever merciful and just. Recognizing the limits of human knowledge and the gracious nature of the Lord, the church can minister effectively in the midst of brokenness and pain. Read more here https://ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/Suicide-Assisted-Suicide-Official-AG-Position-Paper.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).