I briefly touched on Saul’s death yesterday during the sermon. Saul gradually entered into a downward spiral, with episodes like the witch of Endor, trying to kill David, and so on. At the very end of 1 Samuel, Saul kills himself instead of surrendering to the Philistines during battle:
The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. (1 Samuel 31:3-6)
One of the important practices of the Christian faith is to continually relate the words of the bible to what we experience in the world around us.
So today as I personally reflect on Saul’s gruesome death, I cannot help but think of the tragic news from this past week. Kate Spade, a fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, a food/travel television personality, both committed suicide. When we read about these kinds of stories, we often feel a mixture of sadness, guilt, worry, anxiety, and other emotions. We might think how in retrospect, we should have seen warning signs. We also reflect on the tension of having a seemingly put-together public life, while internally struggling with personal darkness. Things like depression are not limited to one particular social group of class. People from all different walks of life might face it.
Perhaps we think to ourselves, Is there someone in my life who might feel that hopeless? What can I do about that?
Yesterday I preached about how Saul is a cautionary tale to us regarding the spiritual realm and letting go of loss and grief. Saul also shows us the tragedy of feeling so hopeless like there is no way out.
About 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year. Half a million people also are treated for self-inflicted injuries each year, too, which are often connected to failed suicide attempts. And tragically, rates continue to rise overall. Here are some other facts about this epidemic:
- The elderly and those 45-54 years of age are often among the most vulnerable demographic.
- Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
- Firearm usage accounts for half of suicides.
- 1/3 of suicides occur while under the influence of drugs of alcohol.
- Suicide is often an impulsive act. In other words, talking through a problem or crisis greatly decreases the likelihood of suicide (that’s why helpline phone numbers are often life-saving!).
The reality is that the same struggles Saul faced still plague us today, too.
It might feel like life is too much to bear. It might feel like you are all alone. It might even feel like your in Saul’s shoes with enemies or troubles surrounding you, and that there is no way out.
But the truth of the matter is that God will never forsake us. God is always with you, no matter how hopeless you might feel. We are all created in God’s image–that is something that nobody could ever take away. You have unsurpassable worth. Your life has meaning and a purpose. And more than anything, God wants us to know and experience the precious love of Jesus.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Veterans Crisis Line- 1-800-273-8255 +1
Arkansas Department of Health Suicide Prevention Initiative (non-Crisis Center, educational programs)- 501-683-0707