Netflix’s undeniably popular 13 Reasons Why continues to create intense conversations about teen suicide---the second largest killer of teens in America next to accidents. It’s a real and growing problem in the American culture, which is the major reason for the extraordinary popularity of the series.
I believe that God’s will for all people is life. God sent his Son, Jesus, to give us abundant life---life to the full (John 10:10). The evil one is the agent of death. Death was nowhere to be found in God’s original design for creation (Genesis 1-2). When sin shattered God’s once perfect created order (Genesis 3), death entered the world. Death is the consequence of a rebellious humanity, not a loving God. God wants his children to always choose life, not death (Deuteronomy 30:10).
Why should people always choose life? In this blog series, 13 Reasons Why Not, I’ve tried to give you God’s 13 reasons for choosing life. Thus far, I’ve given you four: God loves you, He knows you by name, He will never forget your name, and God has only one you who can touch certain people in your specific sphere of influence.
Here is the next reason for you to always choose life: the sun came up this morning.
What does that mean? Let me illustrate. When 9-11 happened, I was asked by WBT radio to go on air the next day and try to be a pastoral counselor for the grieving city of Charlotte, North Carolina. What was supposed to be a one day commitment turned into a two-week reality. The phone lines were incessantly flooded with people calling and asking me to give an understandable and spiritual perspective on what had just happened to the United States of America. WBT felt I was the best person to help answer these questions.
It was early in the morning on 9-12 when I got in my car to drive to the station. I was to go on air in about an hour. I was nervous. I wasn’t sure exactly what I should say. I didn’t know if I could answer the plethora of questions people had.
To rightly prepare myself, I called the wisest person I knew to give me sound and Godly advice:...my dad. Throughout my life, he’d always been present to counsel me in difficult times. I’ll never forget the conversation.
“Dad,” I asked, “what do you think I should say to all the tens of thousands of listeners who will be listening to me this morning? How do I explain and give comfort to them amidst the disaster of 9-11?”
He responded, “Tell them that the sun came up this morning.”
I paused, not fully grasping what he meant. “I don’t understand what you are saying.”
“That’s easy, son,” he said with a chuckle. “If the sun comes up in the morning, there is always hope.”
The light turned on in my mind. I clearly understood what he was saying. A new dawn offers new hope. A new day gives a fresh start. Yesterday has happened. We can’t change it. But we can learn from it. Now we face a new day with encouragement and hope. We can’t alter the past. But we can learn from it and face a better future with hope. That’s what dad was saying.
As these thoughts raced through my mind, I was driving up the hill to the radio station. Just as I was ready to turn into the driveway, the sun peeked over the horizon. Morning had broken. A new day had begun. It was as if the Father in heaven was validating what my earthly father had just said.
As long as the sun comes up in the morning, there is always hope.
Guess what? The sun came up this morning. Most likely, it will again tomorrow. That means today brings new hope for a brighter future. It suggests that hope is on the horizon.
But… if you commit suicide, there is absolutely no hope. None. Zero. Nil. Nada. Done. Over.
Life is finished. Days are ended. Sunrises are gone. There is no new day for you.
Also, you have no hope for a special intervention from God. There is no longer hope for God’s miraculous power to heal your hurts. Hope has been vanquished to the darkness of the night.
Through the decades of pastoral ministry, I’ve spoken with several people who contemplated suicide and decided not to. Everyone with whom I spoke emphasized the momentary nature of the depression. They noted the passing nature of negative feelings. And, after the bad episode ended, they soon began to look for reasons to live. And most of them eventually found them.
Astonishingly, even those with chronic depression and pain have told me that they ultimately found reasons to live. By working with counselors, spiritual advisors, and other health professionals, they eventually found life to be meaningful.
Therefore, they chose life. They chose hope---a strong antidote to suicide!
Thus, another reason why not to commit suicide: The sun came up this morning.
And when it does, there is always hope---no matter how desperate your situation may be.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)