Picture by Raphael Brasileiro
I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
I sat in church listening to family and friends recount moments in a life that ended way too soon. I was struck by the impact that we have on each other. Whether for good or bad, intended or unintentional, we all leave an indelible mark of our passage through life.
People commit suicide for a lot of reasons. They believe the people they love will be better off without them or that no one will notice their passing. They end their lives because they believe the pain is just too much or they just can’t face another day of the darkness that has consumed their world. I do not know what was in my nephew’s mind when he ended his life. I do know the crater his passing left behind. It left a raw and open wound.
The human body is an amazing thing. When we cut a muscle, the body responds by building up scar tissue to repair it. Scar tissue brings the muscle back together and reinforces it for future use. It’s a good plan. However, if the area is injured again, it will build up more scar tissue. Unfortunately, repeated injuries can cause so much scar tissue to build up that the muscle is no longer able to function correctly. When that happens, a surgeon must go in and remove the scar tissue.
Few families make it through life without developing some scar tissue. For some families that scar tissue gets layered on one injury after another, until the family is no longer able to function correctly. These injuries are intentional and unintentional. Some are the result of generational patterns of dysfunction, or the byproducts of addiction or mental illness. Whatever the source, these injuries leave family members distant and disconnected. Hearts can build up so much scar tissue that individuals become resentful and embittered. If unforgiveness sets in, the death of relationships follow in short order.
Because death has such a significant impact, there is an unparalleled vulnerability at a funeral. When deeply scarred families come together to celebrate a life and mourn a death, something extraordinary can happen. It doesn’t seem to matter if our relationship with the deceased was a positive or negative one. The loss of a family member leaves a wound. As painful as this wound is, it comes with an unexpected benefit. It can be the forerunner of healing.
The pain of death opens us up as effectively as a surgeon’s scalpel. God promises to work all things, even the pain of death, together for our good and His glory. If we allow it, God can use this open wound as an opportunity to cut away deadly scar tissue. Like a divine surgeon, God can remove layers of built up scar tissue in order to restore healthy function to a family.
This surgery requires our consent. We have to be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven. We have to love in a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of way; patiently, kindly and thoughtfully, without jealousy, pride or arrogance. We have to give a love that is not self-seeking, a love that is not easily angered. We cannot take into account the wrongs we have endured. (If we do, justice would require us to keep a record of wrongs we have done.)
“Love bears all things regardless of what comes, believes all things looking for the best in each other, hopes all things remaining steadfast during difficult times, and endures all things without weakening” (1 Cor 13:7 AMP).
We can’t love this way in our own strength. Love like this requires us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. It comes out of the love and grace God gave to us when He offered up His Son as payment for our sins. While we were still God’s enemies, He chose to reconcile us to Himself through the death of His Son. When we let God love through us, the same love that heals, restores and transforms us, can heal, restore and transform every relationship in our lives. It can even resurrect relationships that have been strangled to death by too much scar tissue. Healing is possible. Will we give our consent?
© Tamella White 2020