Today has been difficult…
Early this morning (thankfully after my private devotion), I received a call. Suicide. The family wants me there when they tell the children and grandchildren.
As I drive there, I search through my memory for good Bible verses or stories. I don’t know the person who killed himself. I don’t know the circumstances. I need to be ready for anything. Was this person a believer? Did this person ever have faith? Was the manner of death such that repentance could have come after the point of no return? What’s the family’s relationship with this man?
I arrive. I enter the home. I am greeted by the sounds of wailing. Open, unashamed, broken-hearted wailing. Nothing is held back in those screams of despair. Nothing is hidden.
One of the grandchildren found out about the suicide on Facebook. Facebook. I understand why she is wailing. The particular cousin who posted the news is not very popular within the family right now.
I gather what information I can. Person was loved within the family. Not a believer. Brutal death.
I understand the wails. Though much of the family present here with me are Christian in only the loosest sense of the word, they know that suicide, in general, does not lead to hallowed bliss. They are feeling guilty. “He was so alone,” is the common refrain from shaking voices.
And here I am. The pastor. “Pastor, I’m so glad you came. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. Here, Pastor. Talk to the family.” And the family turns to me.
And what can I say? Since the moment I’ve walked in, I’ve been in silent prayer. Words. What words? I’ve been praying for wisdom. My heart goes out to them. But what do I say? Pastor has all the answers? Yeah, right.
I go to despair. I talk about despair. I talk about having no hope in this world. I go to Psalm 22, as the Savior himself cries out. He knew what it was to have no hope in this world. He knew what it was to have every avenue of joy cut off to him. He knew what it was to have friends betray. Yet, he trusted in his Father in all that. And we get his record.
If that seems clunky to you there… trust me, it’s a whole lot more eloquent here than when I said it.
And to cap it off… I didn’t even pray with them. Despite the fact that I had been praying from the moment I walked in the door and really from the moment of the phone call.
I sat with them around an hour, encouraging where I could. And then I left.
And I am a stupid, stupid jar of clay. I know that I’m a cracked jar that holds God’s treasures. I know that I am nothing, I only carry a message. But man, did I biff that message. This jar of clay caved in, and the dust hid all that precious treasure. I don’t know if I did anything other than prove that Pastor cares enough to show up. I suppose that’s something, but that’s so not what I want to do. I want to bring God’s Word. I want to carry the Gospel with me. Did I do that?
I’m pretty sure I failed this time around.
Yeah, I know, I’ve learned and I can do better next time. Yeah, I know, I am covered in Jesus’ robe of righteousness. Yeah, I know the elect will be saved despite my best efforts. Yeah, I know I’ll be visiting them again many times in the coming days and weeks. But right now all I see is my brokenness denying a family any modicum of comfort.
Stupid clay jar.