The peace of God be with you. I have a question and confusion following a discussion with a person. We were discussing the case of the suicide of a Christian woman who was suffering from depression, and the question arose as to whether God could forgive a person who knew Him and committed suicide at the time of the depression crisis. The person in question claims that then you do not know what you are doing and God would forgive, because He knows us and would not forgive if you did it with a clear mind. But I have a different opinion. If that Christian person remained in the grace of the Lord and studied the Holy Scriptures, in the most difficult situations and hardships he would have found a lifeline. If she had been involved in a church and a ministry, taken her eyes off herself and invested them in her soul, she would have had an occupation and reliable friends. This is my opinion. So, what would you say: does God forgive a person who ends up committing suicide against the background of depression, assuming that he is not aware of what he is doing?
I previously wrote the article “What Happens to a Christian Who Commits Suicide?” and I think I answered most of the questions. I also recommend these materials on the same subject:
- Parents, protect your children from suicid
- Is it good to make St. Basil’s molifts when you suffer from depression and have suicidal thoughts
However, I would have something to add, especially since after I wrote those articles a case happened that was very similar to the one you described in the question. A few years ago, a young woman who had a disease that caused her deep depression had repented and was baptized in the church I lead. There was a certain substance that her body either did not produce or produced in very small quantities and the lack of this substance caused her depression. It happened that I once talked to her and another young woman from the church who was suffering from epilepsy, a disease that also caused her a lot of suffering and that was just making her go through a period with many seizures and convulsions, because she happened to fall into the middle of the street, in public transport, while teaching lessons, and was exhausted by frequent episodes. Both girls desperately wanted to be fully healed by God. I talked to them and told them that we as a church pray for their healing and God can heal them at any time, but I also read the following text from the Holy Scriptures:
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3 NASB)
Then I explained to them that the trials can take very different forms and the disease they have may be the trial that God leaves to work on their characters and sanctification. The apostle Paul also had problems that he called “a messenger of Satan” which caused him great discomfort. The apostle asked God 3 times to be set free, but received the answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for in weakness my power is made perfect.” I also told the girls to receive God’s will as it is and if the illness they each have is a test left by God in their lives, to receive them as they are and to let these sufferings accomplish their purpose in order work in their characters patience to make them perfect.
The one who suffered from epilepsy received in humility and meekness the teaching that I gave her from the Word of God, and she never again brought up the subject of her illness. The episodes have become rarer and she still serves God with her spiritual gifts and is useful in the gospel.
It wasn’t the same with the other young woman. Just then, in our discussion, she said that she does not accept to worship a God who will not heal her. I reminded her that we are not gods and we cannot take God’s place to command Him what to do and what not to do. However, she did not accept, to understand later that, being influenced by a friend, they watched on a Christian television channel the programs of a tele-evangelist who promoted the heretical teaching of the gospel of prosperity according to which blessing for a Christian means material prosperity, success in in all respects, perfect health, etc. If she did not have them, then she would no longer accept worshiping God. Soon, together with the other young woman who attracted her to the destructive teaching of the gospel of prosperity, they decided to leave the church. They went to a community in Chisinau where the pastor preached the same gospel of prosperity and then stopped going there because they followed on the Internet only the teachings of the heretic Andrei Shapovalov. I didn’t find out anything about the depressed girl until the day someone told me she killed herself by jumping from the upper floor of a building. I feel very sorry for her, and I think that even with her illness, she would not have reached this desperate state if she had received God’s Word gently and humbly when I first spoke to her. Her suicide is a result not only of the disease, but of the heretical teaching that she followed and that others embraced. The sound teaching of the gospel would have given her a sound mind, which would overcome depression and live for the glory of God. Did you know that God’s great people suffered from advanced depression and yet were used by Him? One of them was the great preacher Spurgeon. Then Adoniram Judson, who took the gospel to Burma, went so deep into his depressions after the death of his first wife that he once took the spade, went into the jungle, dug his own pit, and lay down in it to die there. But the brothers and sisters from the mission station came and prayed around the grave until God raised him up and he lived the rest of his life for the glory of God.
Rejection of the teaching of God’s Word and attachment to heresy ruined the young woman’s life, for she, after hearing the gospel, slipped in the faith, turned away from the church, and no longer served God and men, but was concerned only with herself, her condition, becoming very unhappy and eventually committing suicide. If she had remained faithful to sound teaching, she would have lived the rest of her life in Christ, serving the church, and she would glorify Christ with her life and death.
I pray now for those who have known her and encouraged her or drawn her into heresy to understand that they are to blame and that they are on the same path of perishing. Let three no longer attribute the whole tragedy only to the depression from which the young woman suffered, but to see that her tragedy was caused by slipping into heresy. May God help them to get away as quickly as possible from any false teaching and to break away from the clutches of Satan who has caught and held them to do his will. And let us all realize the danger of heresies and hold fast to the teaching of God’s Word, to glorify the Lord Jesus with our life and death.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc