(written the day after my son's funeral--Benjamin Dean Larsen, died Nov. 27, 2007, from a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. We love you and miss you always, Ben!)
I thought perhaps this week would be just too difficult to think about posting any devotional or writing anything to you all, after learning last Tuesday, that our 24 yr. old son had committed suicide. This last week was an indescribable nightmare that I prayed I'd never have to endure and pray for all of you, that you will not. What I would like to share with you is God's sustaining grace through the worst tragedy in life. I think I know some of you that get this newsletter will identify, as you've voiced to me your own tragedies God has walked you through. I'm sure the pain and sorrow will not go away for a long, long time. In fact at this point I don't see it possible that I am ever free of it. A suicide brings so many questions, and so many hard things to deal with. It leaves a family and church with tremendous pain. If any of you out there think lightly of it and are even remotely considering such a thing, please wipe it far out of your mind. You have no idea what devastation you leave behind for others.
I've been to this point myself. I know in order to get there you have to be completely without hope. We all have a natural instinct of self-preservation and to have gotten to the place where even that does not keep you from doing it, you have to be to a place of utter despair. I was there and God drew me out of it. It was impossible for me to bring myself out of it.
Before this happened, the Lord gave me a little lesson one day as I was reading the Word and happened to pick up a book on our counter and read a portion out of it. The lesson was that no matter what others do, no matter what evil surrounds, no matter what our circumstances and how bad they get, God is always the same God, always reliable to be exactly Who He is according to His perfect attributes and character. He does not change. That is why we can always trust Him... trust His goodness to be beyond any goodness we could ever comprehend... perfect. His love... beyond our comprehension or ability to love... perfect, selfless, enduring, never failing... no never. His righteousness... perfect, never ever, ever changing and He could not act outside of His own righteousness. No matter what the questions we may have or the "whys" we may have in this life, we can count on God to always be God and always act according to Who He is, never changing. When Peter walked on the water to Jesus, the storm was raging before he ever got out of the boat, yet he had faith in Jesus enough to step out and walk on that water to Him. Nothing changed about the wind and waves... but suddenly he saw them... not that he didn't see them before... but now he hesitated and doubted the God of the wind and waves. Perhaps his doubts were... "Is Jesus really God and able to make me walk on this water? Is He really able to stop those wind and waves from drowning me? Who is He? Does he care about me enough? Why did He let me step out into this? Does He really want me to drown? Will He really get me through this?" Well, who knows what all went into his head. I know when the wind and waves of suicide, or sorrows or troubles of any kind come to us it can cause questions of God's love for us... His goodness... His mercy... etc. But God prepared me before this happened by showing me that I needed always to see Him rightly, and that is what our stability is... knowing Him rightly. If we even keep our eyes on Him but do not see Him rightly, that is when our circumstances and grief and so forth will drown us. We must know Him rightly. When this happened, I had much agony over what my son did and still do, but I have a peace that passes all understanding from and about Jesus Himself, because in the last several years of my life He's been revealing to me His attributes and character and Who He is in such a way that I know I can never doubt His love or judgment in anything. I can never judge what He allowed or didn't allow, or how good He is, or how loving, or how merciful. I believe in Him. I don't doubt His love for Ben or His mercy... in fact I am encouraged by knowing I can rely on it. I trust in Him... not because I'm such a great person of profound faith, but because of He Himself indwelling me and doing that, which He does in all His children who put their faith in Him. I'm not trying to show what a great lady of faith I am, but what a great God of faithfulness we have here. It is because of the struggles with those questions through many years of my Christian life, and falling and seeking His answers that He has shown me these things. It did not happen overnight or from one little devotional or lesson. It was years of tears and falling and seeking and finding that brought me to this place. But I want to share that stability of Who He is with all of you. You can count on it. You can rest in it. The pain remains, as it just will for now, but even in the pain I've learned He brings a special comfort that you would not know otherwise. He provides for all. We can find our comfort in Him.
My son, Ben, received Christ as His Savior a couple years ago. He entered into water baptism in March of 2007. He struggled with severe depression, neurological, and physical problems and I do not agree with what he did nor do I condone it, but in trying to explain it, we realize how desperate he must have come. For anyone who would care to listen to a wonderful Gospel message that was preached yesterday at his memorial service, that was so very encouraging and uplifting, click the play button here and listen: boomp3.com
Here is a slide show of Ben's life also, which was shown at the end of the service, as a tape of Ben singing his testimony song, "Amazing" was played: Slide Show The song is about the amazing grace and love of God to him... his personal testimony. I hope those of you who listen are blessed by it.
I thought the pastor did a wonderful job with such a very hard subject and we were much comforted by it.
I didn't think I could share anything today but it is actually therapeutic for me to share with you. It is out of the deep grief and sorrows of our own lives we are truly able to share the reality and comfort of Christ. I hope many of you find it a comfort today, and also again, if anyone of you had a thought of suicide, please know there is hope... there is the strength, the faith, the guidance to get through whatever in life you must face... whatever the race is you care called to run, through Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith, and Who, for the hope set before Him endured the cross. I remember once praying, "Lord I'm sincerely asking You to take my life or let me die. Is it ok for me to ask this of You and will You please just take my life?" He answered me... gently, in a still small voice... "Yes, I could let you die now, but if I do, you would never experience or know the glory I want to work in you and through you." Suddenly I realized He was asking me if I would love Him enough to keep living, and trust Him to do His work in me. Suddenly I wanted that more than anything, no matter what the pain. As Christians sometimes, there is more of a temptation to want to end life and just be free and in heaven than even for a nonbeliever. We must trust Jesus alone with that perfect time. I look forward to that day I can be with Him. But I will let it come according to His will... when His purposes are accomplished in me, and when He says now is the time. My times are in His hands. Satan can so easily deceive when we are immature in the Lord and unaware of His schemes and lies. We need to watch out for one another when we see each other going through the fire. We are here to help one another along the journey. We don't do this journey alone... ever. From beginning to end we are in it together as the body of Christ.