Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

Good Morning,

Today we recognize and remember those who have struggled with suicide. The pain that they experienced is real and raw for all of us who have been witness to it. There is deep hurt and pain that breaks the will of the human spirit and tortures us beyond what we can bare. And so, today, we come into worship with the memory of that pain and a desire to be the church for those who are hurting and groaning in our world.

All families have experienced some level of emotional and spiritual pain. Some have had those whose pain was simply too much for them to bare. Many of us have known people whose hurt was so difficult to heal. My family has watched loved ones grapple with the emotional turmoil that tears at our hearts and breaks our spirit. We have witnessed one uncle attempt suicide on two separate occasions and survived those attempts and yet their pain was palpable and permeated throughout the family. We witnessed one uncle struggle with immense regret with lost opportunities to make amends with my Grandfather. We watched, unknowingly till after, the visible signs of his pain, which resulted in the loss of his life at the young age of 43.

Friends, the pain is real. The aching and groaning hearts of those who struggle with the harsh reality of life and see no other way out, is real. Im here to tell you, that there is hope for all in the midst of this very real pain. Paul reminds the church in Corinth of the comfort that God can provide for those who are troubled and hurting. Paul knew that the people of his day experienced immense pain and suffering, alone, and that they needed comfort for their weary hearts. The world is not much different today. Humanity still groans and suffers alone, but we do not have to do so. The love of Christ can shine through our communities of faith, to be a beacon of hope for the broken hearted.

In Romans chapter 8, Paul questions what could ever separate us from the love of God. The answer he felt was simple. "38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I believe the most important word in this passage is the greek word for convinced, Peitho. It literally means to be persuaded that ones beliefs on something are changing to a different understanding. Paul is basically saying that though he once believed that there were things humanity could do to separate themselves from God’s love, there was nothing that could do that. There is no action, no word, no thought we could have, that would separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

It simply would not be befitting the character of Christ, that we could do anything that would take away his love. So, we can live as those who have been set free. We are not alone in the struggles of life, no matter how far we have fallen or how much pain we have experienced, Christ still loves us. Christ will always love us. Since Christ love never fails, Christians love must never fail. We should be enveloping this world with the love of Jesus to the point where the pain and suffering ceases to exist. I know that we can not fix everything, but we can always be there to love and support others.

For those who have been hurt by suicide and suicidal thoughts, we love you. You are beloved by this church, by Jesus Christ, and by God almighty. As a church, we will do everything we can to love and care for you through your times of need. For those who have witnessed the pain of others, we love you, Jesus loves you, and we will do all we can to love and care for you. You are not alone in this journey and we will always be here for you because Jesus is always there for you. And all God’s people say. Amen.