Posts Tagged ‘death’

The Tragedy of Suicide

November 4, 2014

Why is it always tragic when someone takes their own life? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many people today are talking about Brittany Maynard and how she did decide to end her own life due to having a terminal disease. I’ll be upfront about my stance on this. To take one’s own life in an active manner like this is immoral. Had she let nature run its course and not resist knowing the case was terminal, that would not necessarily be immoral.

Unfortunately, when many people see something like this, they will themselves start to consider the question of suicide. Suicide is often made to be a noble act in our culture. We can think of Robin Williams who had the meme going around with being told “Genie. You’re free.” I did write about that shortly afterwards and also posted a piece my wife Allie wrote on suicide.

Suicide is a tragedy because life itself is something wonderful and when you choose to end your life actively, you are making a statement not just about your life, but also a statement about everything else that is out there. Chesterton said years ago that a martyr dies because he believes there is something worth dying for. A suicide dies because he believes there is nothing worth living for.

If you have something, anything, then you can fight on and live. To say that you want to end your life is to tell every single facet of creation that none of it is worthwhile. It is to say that your pain trumps all of that. Please note also that in all of this, nothing is being said about the state of one’s salvation. I do not say suicide is the unforgivable sin, but I certainly do see the Scriptural position of it as sinful.

Unfortunately, events like the death of Maynard do not help us see suicide as a tragedy, but rather as something somehow dignified. What is dignified however about it? What is dignified is choosing to face your life and not let pain define you. It is choosing to enjoy every moment that you are given instead of saying none of those future moments will be worth it.

If we are people who see this today, then we need to see it today. Are we really looking at our world and seeing all the good that is in it, or are we choosing to let our pain define us? Many of us can often even identify ourselves by our struggles. We identify ourselves as alcoholics or porn addicts or drug addicts. These can be facets of who we are, and we should certainly work on them if they’re problems for us, but we do not need to let them identify us.

What happened to Maynard is a tragedy, and we should be mourning. Oh we can celebrate the life that was here, but it is always tragic when someone chooses to end their own life. We can say it’s noble if someone takes a bullet for someone else in self-defense, but it is not when someone pulls the trigger themselves. The former says the other person is worth dying for. The latter says no person is worth living for.

Celebrate life today and while we honor the person who died, let us make sure we never honor suicide. It always will leave pain to those left behind. There’s enough pain with the death itself. Let’s not add to it.

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A Tribute To Gretchen Passantino Coburn

October 3, 2014

Will you run your race so that you finish well? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I believe it was just a couple of days ago that my wife asked me to pray for Gretchen Passantino Coburn, someone highly instrumental with the apologetics ministry of Answers in Action. I was told she was going under for an operation. Of course we prayed, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Gretchen is really tough. She’ll be out of this in no time and bouncing right back.”

As an apologist, I make it a point to try to not be wrong.

And this time, I really really hate that I was wrong.

When we got home yesterday, we found out the news. Gretchen had passed away from a massive heart attack. It left a dark cloud hanging over our household for the rest of the evening and that kept going. I don’t think either one of us slept the best last night.

Now I’m not going to be one who says I knew Gretchen very well. I didn’t. Now I wish I had known her well, but alas, I did not. Still, when we did talk, it was always a good and friendly conversation. When I posted something on the Deeper Waters Facebook page, she would sometimes comment, and I always delighted in her comments.

I also liked about Gretchen that she was someone who was real. One memory I have of her that could seem awkward is when her husband came home from a long trip. He told her that he was back from his trip to which she said “See you in the bedroom!” Some of you could think I’m sharing something private. I’m not. This was posted right on Facebook. Everyone could get to see it, but that was something that made it special too. This was a couple with a great love for one another and they weren’t afraid to show it.

It also brought out what I just said. Gretchen was real. She was an apologist who was not afraid to show her fun-loving and joking side. In a private conversation, she even made a joke to me once that my Aspie self had a hard time responding to. She apologized when she found out, but I told her there was no need to. I appreciated her humor. I really liked that about her.

I found Gretchen’s articles that she wrote to be quite helpful at times and fair, even if I didn’t always agree. Gretchen never acted like she was better than anyone else because of her established position in the apologetics world and treated people well who were just starting their journey. That includes people like myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I have a habit every night of reading a portion of the Psalms and thinking about it as I try to go to sleep. I normally don’t place much stock in special events like this such as just opening the Bible and finding just the right message for you. Yet as I don’t think that commonly happens, I’m wondering if last night was an exception. I go through the Psalms in order and last night, I was reading Psalm 84 and the next section was verses 5-7.

5: Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

I couldn’t help but think this was a fitting tribute to Gretchen. There is no doubt that Gretchen found her strength in Jesus. Anyone who looked at her knew her heart was on the path to the place of God. What about the valley of Baca? That refers to a place of pain and sorrow. Now I’m not one who thinks this whole world is awful, but it’s not as it should be. It is a place of pain for many of us.

What did Gretchen do? She made that valley less painful for the rest of us. She was the one who made it a place of springs, mainly by sharing her knowledge of Christ and letting the rest of us know that we could rightly place our trust in Jesus. She helped answer the despair of many hearts who wanted to know if Jesus was real or if the whole thing was just a fiction.

And how does it end? Gretchen is not in her resurrected body of course, but I do say she has appeared before her God. One day she will be reunited with a glorified body and we will see Gretchen as she really is, and I do not doubt that it will be far more beautiful than anything we ever saw here on Earth, which should leave us all in wonder. It will be because she will be the best reflection of God that she can possibly be.

Gretchen ran the race well. As I thought about her last night, my honest prayer was to give me the desire and enable me to do the same. It has been said that when each of us was born, we cried while the world rejoiced. We should all live our lives so that when we die, the world will cry and we will rejoice.

Right now, there is reason to rejoice for Gretchen, but we will have the tears on this side. We are not sorry for her. She is not at a loss right now. We are sorry for ourselves who are suffering the loss. A great warrior for Christ has passed on. Gretchen can never be truly replaced of course, but she would be honored to know many are rising up to fill in the spot that she left behind.

Earlier this year also, I had the joy of getting to interview Gretchen on my podcast. That interview can be heard here. Gretchen chose to talk about the beauty of life which meant dealing with the question of abortion, dealing with suffering in the intermediate stage of life. Finally, we talked about end of life issues with questions such as euthanasia. Now Gretchen has seen all the beauty of life and is now in the presence of true beauty, a beauty she could never have imagined.

God bless you Gretchen as He already has. Thank you for your friendship and I look forward to seeing you again someday.

Gretchen

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Brush With Death

August 15, 2014

What’s it like to come close to death and can you find hope afterwards? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

 

Many of you liked what I said about the death of Robin Williams. Today, I’m letting my wife Allie share some of her thoughts from a personal perspective.

 

I’m not sure if this is appropriate timing, but I feel like it might be a good time to share this.  This is my story of my brush with death.

 

Five years ago, I was dealing with some heavy depression.  I’ve always delt with heavy depression, but it reached a peak after a failed relationship with a guy I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt like the greatest thing I could do for the world…was for me to not be in it anymore.  Besides…who would care?  Who would miss me?  I mean sure, my family would be upset, but surely they’d move on eventually right?  Everyone dies after all…just not by their own hands.  Of course, this is just how I thought.  I thought if I left no one would care or miss me except for my family and they’d only be sad for a little while, but would eventually get over it.  But the thing with suicide that is different from any other kind of death is that the family and friends will wonder, “How could I have missed the signs?  Could I have prevented them from doing this?  Could I have even been the cause of them doing this?”

So I grabbed whatever medicine I could.  I couldn’t grab them all because some of them were with my parents in their bathroom in the bedroom.  I remember chugging all those pills.  It was midnight.  After I took all the medicine, I called the guy and told him what I had done…he hung up on me.  I started writing out a note.  As I was writing it, my vision started become a little blurred and I became dizzy.  Suddenly my dad opens my bedroom door.  He asks me “What are you doing still up?”  It must’ve been between 1:30-2:30am at this point.  I told him I was just up writing something then I’d go to sleep.  I gave him one last look and told him I loved him and gave him a hug…thinking, “This is the last time I’m ever going to see my dad…he doesn’t even suspect a thing.”  He said he loved me too and left my room.  Even as I type this I’m getting teary-eyed.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw that I had four arms.  I knew this was going to be a long night.  At around 3am, it started getting really bad.  I couldn’t write anymore.  The room was moving.  The floor was moving, the walls were moving.  There were different colors.  I started getting a headache and there was a ringing in my ears.  I had to crawl to my bed.  Finally, I reached my bed.  As I layed flat on my bed, as still as I could, my feet felt like they were being lifted up, yet I could see they were still on my bed.  I turned off the light next to my bed.  My heart was racing faster than it’s ever raced before.  It literally felt like it was going to come right out of my chest!  I started having mild seizures.  My body would suddenly start seizing on its own every now and then, but then it would stop.  I was in a constant sweat, yet I had the chills.  I was cold…yet hot.  I was scared…I had heard that people who end their lives by their own hands go to hell because they didn’t trust God.  I don’t believe this theory today, but at the time, it was a scary thought.  I was praying and asking God to forgive me and asking God to please let me be with Him instead of being in hell.  I also asked God to be with my family and let them know they weren’t to blame for my death.  I had talked to a friend for a few hours until she absolutely had to go.  That’s when I started praying and prayed all night.  Then 8am comes.  I never fell asleep and I had still been praying.  My mom opens the door.  She says, “Allie, where is your brother’s medication?”  My vision wasn’t blurry anymore but I had a hard time focusing on her when I looked at her.  The first thought that came to mind was, “Why am I not dead yet?”  Then the next thought was, “I’ve been caught.”  I told her, “Look in my bathroom.”  She goes in my bathroom and I hear her yell my dad’s name, “Allie tried to kill herself!”  As I type this I feel nauseated, I can still taste the poison I put in my body.  I couldn’t really get out of bed.  My dad had to help me walk.  I couldn’t walk on my own.  The seizing had stopped.  My dad drove me to the hospital.  My mom told me she fainted in the bathroom.  We get to the hospital, and I feel terrible for the poor lady working at the front desk.  As we were talking with her, I just started vomitting.  I vomitted all over her and her nice suit.  My dad just barely missed my vomit.  I’ve been told my eyes were darting all over the place.  I was admitted into the hospital in-patient.  I was poked with needles seemed like every 10-15 minutes day and night for three days straight.  My heart was still racing rapidly.  Every now and then parts of my body would start shaking on their own, like my arm or my hand, or even a single finger, but then it would stop.  My parents would visit often.  They’d bring me Wendy’s since I hated hospital food.  I couldn’t sleep, partially because of the IV that was in my wrist.  Every time I started to doze off the darn thing would start beeping!  I had to drink this weird cranberry juice that had some medicine in it that would make me go to the bathroom and man did it make me go!  Even while I was in the hospital though, I had some crazy hallucinations.  The screen that monitored my heart I thought had games on it.  I thought the bed was moving and I even thought there were camera’s on the bed!  I thought I heard drs whispering about me behind my back.  I thought I had memories of the hospital, even though I had never been there before.  I thought I heard a flute being played.  Then the craziest one was I thought the room I was in was infested with red ants!  Red ants crawling everywhere!  The walls, ceiling, furniture, everywhere!  They’d bunch up in certain places and if I looked up at the ceiling, they’d fall on me!  But if they fell in my mouth, they tasted like paper.  I got so scared, it all seemed so real!  I had to talk to a neurologist and they had to reasure me what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, and even tasting weren’t real.  I heard my dad even cancelled a debate or speaking engagement he had because he wanted to stay with me during that time.  I had to have help going to the bathroom since I was hooked up to an IV and so many other stuff.  I was absolutely miserable.  I was really mad at God too.  I mean, I had no intention on surviving.  I had no intention on ending up in a hospital.  I also knew after doing a stunt like this, I’d end up going to another hospital I feared even more than going to hell – a mental hospital.  I had to go to one years prior for self-mutilation and it was one of the worst experiences I ever had.  Sure enough, a lady came in and spoke with my mom and me and said, “We have a nice hospital your daughter can be transferred at from here.”  I ended up going there afterwards.  As they were getting me off the hospital bed, I still had to have help because I was so weak.  They loaded me into the ambulance and transferred me to what I thought was going to be my worst nightmare – the mental hospital.  I was so exhausted…after having not slept for four days/nights straight.  When I got to the mental hospital, I barely stayed awake until finally I asked, “Can I go to bed?”  They thought it was odd of me asking, but when I told them, they were okay with it.  I finally got my first night of sleep that night.  They came in first thing in the morning and took some blood only one time the whole time I was there.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  It wasn’t like the first mental hospital I had been to prior.  The staff was nice and it was kind of comfortable there.  I was in-patient there for four days.  I was then treated out-patient for a couple of weeks.  While I was there, I was still angry with God for allowing me to live, but I tried to make the best of it.  I was so hung over the guy I tried to end my life over, I thought, “If I get better, maybe he’ll take me back!”  I didn’t realize at the time I had only been a guinea pig to him the whole time – he had never given a care about me.  While I was being treated out-patient, I got an e-mail from someone saying, “I heard about you from (family friend) and heard you needed a friend.  I’m Nick Peters.  If you want to talk I’m here.”  I was intrigued to say the least.  So we corresponded back and forth.  I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t the nicest to him.  There were times I was pretty mean to him.  But there were times where he could’ve been really mean back at me, but he wasn’t.  There were times he showed he actually cared about me as a friend.  At one point while we were talking online, I was really quiet about something and got upset (I don’t remember what it was about).  All of a sudden I get this phone call from an unknown number.  I answer it and they’re like, “Are you okay?”  I ask, “Who is this?”

“Nick.”

“How did you get my number?”

“Facebook.”

He was actually worried about me because I got quiet.  I started seeing other things in Nick other than him just being nice to me.  I saw a joy in him about God I wanted to have.  I had drifted a bit away from God and I missed having a close relationship with him.  Instead of being angry with God, I tried to be thankful to him for rescuing me from death and tried to get closer to him again.  I also started developing feelings for Nick.  Eventually those feelings grew into something more and now we’ve been married for 4 years!  

 

God didn’t just save my life from death that day though.  My story is truly a miraculous one.  What I have failed to mention and will mention now is that the doctors thought I was going to need a new liver.  My liver and my vital organs should’ve failed.  All those drugs I took (and I haven’t said which ones I took on purpose – but they were some pretty hefty meds) were in my system for eight hours before anyone found me that morning.  I should’ve had organ failure.  My liver should’ve died…I should’ve died.  God not only saved my life, he protected my liver and my vital organs.  The only damage that was done to me was emotional and I have some brain damage that has a 50% chance of healing.  My story is one of hope, and I hope it gives you hope.  That day God showed me a portion of his power.  God said, “Live!” and I lived!  Today I am thankful to be alive!  God continues to show me his love and grace.  He had compassion on me through this difficult time in my life.  He has blessed me so much.  He is a God filled with compassion.  He is passionate for you!  Give him your burdens, for his burden is light.  He will give you rest.

On the Death of Robin Williams

August 13, 2014

What are my thoughts on the death of Robin Williams? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

When I heard the news of Robin Williams’s death, it was in an email and I thought “That can’t be right. Surely it must be another actor with that name. Robin Williams committing suicide?” I went to IMDB and saw the age given matched perfectly. It was quite a shock to hear and it was indeed tragic.

Let’s go ahead and say it right at the start. Suicide is always tragic. 

None of us really like death, but in some cases, we can accept it to an extent. If our loved one is old and it’s “their time” we’re sorry to see them go, but we understand. If a soldier or a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, we are sad to see that happen and we don’t really think it was their time, but we understand it. 

Suicide though?

That leaves us with question after question.

I put something about this on my Facebook yesterday and someone told me about someone whose Dad had committed suicide when they were five years old and how they kept asking “Did my Dad not want to see me grow up?”

This person was in their 60’s and still asking.

Suicide will leave a mark on every family when it takes place. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different. Wedding anniversaries and birthdays won’t be the same. Whenever the date of the suicide comes around, the people involved will remember it. Every time they think they will ask themselves “Was there anything I could have done differently? Could I have stopped this?”

And they will never find a satisfying answer to those questions.

For our family, Robin Williams was a treasure. When my wife and I were dating, we lived in different states about 250 miles apart so I’d often bring over movies when I came to see her. At that time, she struggled with depression and one movie I bought was Patch Adams, which is about a doctor who used humor to treat his patients. 

If you’ve never seen the movie, Robin Williams’s character, Patch Adams, has set up his clinic and a girl, Carin, he has an interest in is one of his doctors that helps treat the patients. One time, she is alone and a man with mental illness of a severe nature comes to see her.

The next thing we hear is that he has murdered her.

Patch blames himself and in the following scene, we see him having a dialogue with God wondering if he can even go on.

As you see in the video, what stops him is a butterfly on his medical bag that flies on to his shirt and then he has on his finger. Why? Because Carin had said earlier how she wishes she could be a caterpillar so she could transform and fly away. Patch has his spirits renewed by this and continues his work.

Since marriage, we’ve watched a number of other films of his such as Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire and we did watch the only season of the Crazy Ones together. Allie also was happy to share with me about how his daughter was named Zelda, after the Legend of Zelda, a series Allie knows I thoroughly enjoy.

Since hearing the story of Williams’s death, I have also been given some hope in hearing that he had attended Redeemer Church where Tim Keller serves as pastor and that he has attended at least one other church in San Francisco on a regular basis and had been asking questions. Did he find the right answers? We can hope.

I do want to say a few other thoughts that come to me about this.

First, if you are a Christian who is making comments about someone being in Hell right now and doing so gleefully, shame on you. I have unfriended one person on Facebook who did this. It is not our call to make if someone is in Hell or not. Yet even if we were absolutely certain that they were, we should not be rejoicing in that fact.

Years ago when Saddam Hussein was still alive, someone messaged me on a forum I was in when the news came that Saddam’s sons had been found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” Now I was absolutely certain they were Muslims and outside the fold and I replied that it was good that the evil they would do on Earth had been stopped and they would never harm someone again, but it’s tragic that someone enters eternity without the grace of God. 

Yes. Even our enemies.

I do believe in Hell, and if you agree with me, you should defend it similar to the way that you would defend the reality of the holocaust (Since there are holocaust deniers). Both should be seen as realities and both should be seen as things that you would prefer could be otherwise. 

Christian. You may think someone didn’t do the best with their life, but the reality is, well, neither do you. We all screw up and make mistakes. On this point, I don’t care if you’re a Calvinist or an Arminian. We all know the only way we get to Heaven is by the grace of God. We do not deserve to be in the loving presence of God and walking with Jesus at all. We all need grace.

If you think Robin Williams didn’t make it, then just remember that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, neither would you. I, meanwhile, hold out hope. This is also so since I found that one of the books he read often to his children and one of his favorites was the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I hope he came to know who Aslan is in this world. 

The next point is that suicide is a tragedy. This has been said, but some people have been sharing the meme of saying “Genie. You’re free.”

What does that mean really?

Do you really want to affirm the view of the suicide and the person contemplating suicide that this world is just awful and that we should all be seeking to escape it? Let us consider what G.K. Chesterton said about those who are suicides in contrast to those who are martyrs.

“A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside of him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside of him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end.”

If you are a Christian, you should know that this is your Father’s world. This world is not all that it was meant to be. That’s true, but it is not Hell. There are plenty of good things here and one just needs to take the time to see them. Many times when I have been depressed, it has been the simple things that have brought me out, such as seeing my cat play with a toy. It can also be the love of other people, such as the touch of my wife. 

You see, it’s okay to not always be in a happy mood. You’re not meant to always be happy. It’s okay to have a down day. You can’t force yourself to feel happy. If you could make yourself feel something, we’d all make ourselves feel joy. You’re not always responsible for your feelings, but you are responsible for what you do with them.

You might think Robin Williams is free today, but you know who isn’t?

If you’re reading this blog with sadness thinking about it, you’re one of the people who isn’t.

Neither are the immediate friends and family. The rest of the world is at a loss right now because of this tragedy. Suicide takes the pain that one person goes through and thrusts it instead on everyone else. It is a wound that will never be healed this side of eternity. It will be a constant reminder on the lives of everyone involved from then on.

I say this as someone familiar with it. Some of you know that when I was introduced to my now wife, it was when she was recovering from a suicide attempt.

How different things would be if she had succeeded.

And keep in mind for her, at one point, she thought it was all over. In fact, what she was doing was because of a bad relationship with a boy. 

Would she have even dreamed that within about a year’s time, she’d be walking down the aisle to marry a totally different man who saw her at her worst and still loved her? 

In fact, I wrote earlier this year about how she even won a beauty pageant earlier this year put on by Joni and Friends called the Miss Shining Star pageant for girls with disabilities. 

MissShiningStar2014

I still remember it well. All the girls I had seen won had won the talent competition also. Allie had lost it in her division. There it was at the end and I was thinking “She’s not going to win it.” It just looked like she would lose this title.

And then they announced her name as Miss Shining Star.

She’ll also tell you I cried more than she did that day. It was just such a delight to see how far she had gone and how she had been so hesitant to enter this pageant and yet, she won it. Next year, she will pass her crown on to someone else so they can enjoy that privilege, but now, she is an inspiration that there is always hope.

And all of those might not have been.

In fact, each one of us is a “might not have been.”

None of us was required to exist. The world could have gone on just fine without our being here. None of us are essential to the story. Each of us has been given life and each of us is to decide what to do with it. I pray you’ll treat it as a gift.

Please remember this. Suicide is never the answer. Your pain might end at that point, but the pain you leave for others will never end.

Third point is one that seems odd coming from me, but it is true. My wife and I are Aspies and introverts. We don’t thrive on relationships like other people do, but we also know that relationships are important. I am incredibly thankful for the friendships that I have earned over the years. There is nothing like it. I am thankful for a family that raised me up in a Christian home and showed me love always, and I am thankful for the family that has become mine as well in my in-laws. They are honored to have me as a son-in-law and I am grateful.

I am also thankful for our church family. Just last Sunday, we celebrated Allie’s 24th birthday and some friends took us out to eat. Allie talked about how her family couldn’t do that since they were far away and my family can’t really afford it. This couple that took us out is in their 70’s and lead a group called Marriage Moments at our church. They know something about marriage. They’ve been married for 50+ years. Since our church is “The Point” they said to just think of them as their Point Parents.

That is something that I am sure will never leave me.

That evening, Allie and I watched Into The Storm with a gift card we’d been given by my parents. Allie really liked Twister and likes this one even more now. Still, as I saw it I was left in a somber state. I can assure you the movie is an awesome one that will have you on the edge of the seat, but I also think about the times that people were near-death and focusing on the relationships that they had formed over the years and wanting to tell people how much they loved them.

Allie would be the first to tell you how quiet and somber I was that evening.

Why? I’m a go-getter type of guy who wants to make the most of what I have and was thinking “Are we making the most of our time here now?”

Those relationships are important and of course, none of them will be perfect. You will not be a perfect spouse. You will not have a perfect spouse. You will not be a perfect parent. You will not have perfect children. You will not have perfect friends or be a perfect friend or have perfect siblings or be a perfect sibling. 

And that’s okay.

Things won’t be perfect, but they can be great. 

For we Christians, we should know this first and foremost. Our own God is eternally relational Himself in the Trinity.

Too often, we take these relationships for granted. We act like that person will always be here, and then a car accident takes place and they’re gone, or they get the news that they have cancer and their time is limited. We can often ask ourselves what we will do with the future, which is fine, but we need to ask ourselves what we’re going to do with this moment.

Of course, I am not saying be reckless with other people. As an introvert, I will not relate to everyone and there will be times that people like myself need to be away from the crowd and recharging, but even then, introverts need people too. Let us remember what C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

These are the people. These are the ones you will take with you into eternity. I am an avid lover of books and reading and the quest of knowledge. I hope my wife would agree however that I am a greater lover of her and I would hope ultimately also that I am a greater lover of God. The knowledge of God is subservient to God Himself after all.

Today, the world just doesn’t seem as funny because of a tragic event that has happened and made us all stop and think about what our lives really mean and what they’re all about. What we all would give right now to have had a butterfly come and land on Robin Williams at this time.

And if you are in this boat right now of considering taking your own life, please please please do not do it. Reach out and talk to someone. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. (1-800-273-8255) Please also find a good local church and talk to a good minister or counselor there. Just reach out and get some help. The Christian message is that every human life is valuable and precious by nature of what it is. 

My own wife wrote about what she was dealing with in her journal last night and shared it on Facebook. (So yes, I am not sharing something private here and she knows I’m sharing this and is fine with it.)

As I was journaling tonight, I journaled a bit about the death of Robin Williams and it got me thinking about my own suicide attempt five years ago.  Stories of suicide is very heart-breaking, and for me, they resonate very deeply because I was almost one of them.  Here’s what I wrote, you may like it, you may not like it, but it’s the truth and is what’s on my heart:

Why…why did God rescue me from my suicide attempt…but he allows others to die?  Why did he rescue me from my death but not other people?  It almost makes me angry to have survived.  I’m no more special than anyone else, I still haven’t figured out what I’m really good at, yet God decided to rescue me?  Why?  I was still a follower of Christ, if I had died, I would’ve gone to heaven and been with the Lord.  But there are some who don’t follow him who kill themselves, and their despair is even worse in the afterlife instead of having peace.  Why God…why did you rescue me from death…but you don’t rescue others from the grips of suicide?  Their lives are just as precious as mine!  Robin Williams was doing good in the world – he made people smile when they thought they couldn’t.  But I don’t do any good in the world.  I don’t make any contribution to the world.  So why did you rescue me?  My soul aches…people are hurting so much…and there is so much death around me…people killing each other…people killing themselves…this is not what you created us for!  All this death and violence…this isn’t what you wanted for us!  What are we to do in world that is killing itself and breaking down?  Will we all eventually kill each other to the brink of extinction?  No, that won’t happen.  You promised you’ll come back for us.  You promised you’d come back and reign over us on earth, just as you do in heaven.  We still have hope!  You won’t abandon us, you always keep your promises.  I know you’ll come for us, and you’ll be our King.  The world will finally know you are there!  The world will finally bow down to you as LORD.  You will rescue your servants.  You will come for your children.  You won’t leave us like this.  We are waiting for you…come soon my LORD!

As you can see, she still has problems and attitudes she’s working with, but I like at the end what she’s doing. She’s seeking to find hope in God and frankly, where else will you find it? If Christ is not risen, then death will indeed have the last laugh. It will have it on the suicide or the murder victim or the martyr or anyone else. No one will escape it.

If Christ is risen, those of us in Him have the last laugh on death.

And speaking of laughs, let’s look back on the life of Robin Williams and remember he left us with several. We will miss him, but let’s not lose sight of them.

Please be in prayer for those who have been left behind from this tragedy.

R.I.P. Robin Williams.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

 

Edited to add: A kind reader suggested a guide to help those struggling with depression and other conditions that can be found here.

Apostles’ Creed: He Descended Into Hell

May 20, 2014

Why does the creed say that Christ descended into Hell? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If there’s one part of the Apostles’ Creed that’s really problematic and the subject of debate, it’s this one. Some versions of the creed are said to not even include this part of it. Yet since it is in the one that I am using, I will be making some comments on it.

First, if I take Hell in the traditional sense, no. I do not think that Christ went there. Of course, many readers know that I have a different view on the nature of Heaven and Hell than most people do. It would not make sense for me to say Christ descended into Hell.

Yet I do hold to an intermediate state. I think there are several passages of Scripture that show this to be true. Paul talked about desiring to die and be with Christ and about being naked apart from the body. The thief on the cross was told about how that very day, He would be with Jesus in Paradise. (Yet another reason to think Christ did not literally go to Hell unless somehow Hell has become Paradise.)

Also, I think events like near-death experiences have shown that there is something more to man than just his body. These experiences cannot give us the furniture of Heaven or Hell, but I think they do pose a problem for a more naturalistic worldview.

Now there are many views on what happened to Christ. Some theologians have said that He did indeed descend into Hell and this way to release those who were there or else to proclaim his victory to those who were there, which could be two sides of the same coin.

Most of this comes from the passage found in 1 Peter 3:18-22 which is an extremely difficult passage to interpret and some commentaries even have an appendix in the back just meant to deal with this passage. Let’s make sure to keep in mind that while we hold that the Scripture is infallible in what it says, the creeds, as important as they are, are not necessarily. Yet even if we lost this phrase in the creed, it would be up to us to explain this passage of Scripture.

Some meanwhile think that the idea of descending into Hell is just a way of saying that he suffered death. This would be a parallel to the idea of death even if it is mentioned before burial. I really do not find this one persuasive however.

So what is my view? It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t want to do something like read Dante’s Inferno into the Creed. There’s no need to think about Jesus going into Hell to battle the devil one-on-one for instance.

What I would think of it as saying is simply that Jesus went to the realm of the dead, which was often described by the term “Sheol” in the Old Testament. I would be just fine with Him going to where the OT saints were and announcing the victory to lead them then into Paradise where He would be with the thief on the cross.

I am also not firmly settled on any of this as this is a difficult passage of the creed to interpret and there are many facets about this in-between time of Christ’s death and resurrection that we do not know about. Like other blogs, this is one I definitely welcome discussion on if you have your own theory.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Ode To Joy

July 8, 2013

What difference can one life make? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was going to write something today for a friend in response to a Mormon video, but I must put that one on hold for a day now. As listeners of the podcast know, and I hope you all are listening, my grandmother-in-law passed away Saturday. This is the grandmother on Mike’s said, in other words, the mother of Michael Licona, for those wondering which Mike. His daughter is my wife after all. Right now, Allie is up in Baltimore for the funeral of Grandma Joy.

If you are a fan of Mike, and many of you are, you need to consider that this woman was the main woman in his life before his wife that shaped him, and give thanks. Joy was in turn a great influence on my own wife, helping her through her own personal crises. In the midst of all her pain, she had only joy and concern for other people.

Joy had had breast cancer that was stage four. It disappeared sometime around last September for awhile, and I think this was a gift from God to allow her to have one more Thanksgiving with us all. This was the second time I had got to meet Joy. The first was at the wedding and I did not get to interact with her that much. At this Thanksgiving, Allie and I stayed at her house and got to meet her and regularly speak with her.

Joy was a delight whose Christian faith showed through and her simple laughter in everything. For instance, two of her grandsons came over every day. One was especially interested in Mike’s doing magic tricks with a deck of cards. When Mike was gone one time, I asked this grandson if he would like to play a card game. This one was either an early teenager or about to be one.

“Yeah!”

“Ever heard of 52 pick-up?”

“No!”

“Wanna play it?”

“Yeah!”

To which, I of course threw the deck in the air and watched all the cards land telling him to pick them up. Joy watched and smiled delighting in such a prank.

Joy was active the whole week being in the kitchen helping to prepare meals. She offered advice to Allie and I and I don’t remember her ever being negative about her past experiences. Joy was quite good at living out her name.

Allie and Joy would quite often talk to each other. There was a special bond there between the two of them which made the loss so much harder for Allie. I have even been told that when Joy was not really responsive to anyone, that she still cried when she heard Allie’s voice on the phone.

During the past month, we had been waiting in limbo expecting the end to come any time. We actually expected it the first week in June, but Joy was always a fighter and hung on for a long time. On Saturday, I received the call from Allie while I was out doing some shopping. On the show, I asked for prayer at least twice for the situation.

Through her Christlike actions, Joy helped shape society. Those of you who have appreciated Mike’s work should give thanks for Joy, for one could easily question whether he would have done his resurrection work if it had not been for the influence of a godly mother. Those of you who are mothers out there. Never underestimate the influence that you can have on your children.

Those of you who like my work, and I hope that’s all of you, need to have the same consideration. Because of Joy’s influence, Mike married a Christian woman and together they raised their children to be Christian. One of them is my wife today who has Joy’s Christianity in her. My wife is, aside from Jesus Christ, the greatest influence on my life. It is her that has been the greatest change in my apologetic career really giving me the confidence to go further. Joy’s actions reached far beyond herself. They reached to those who would come after her and even to those who were in no way part of her family at first.

It is said that when we are born, we cry and the world rejoices. We should live so that when we die, the world cries and we rejoice. The world has much to cry about today. Joy, meanwhile, has much to rejoice about. As of now, she is matching her name more than she ever has before. Though not in the body at the moment, she is nevertheless in the presence of Jesus.

In fact, as I drove home from the store, I kept thinking that Joy was in the presence of Jesus, and I could not help but smile. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, we do mourn, but not like those without hope. The mourning is not for Joy. Joy is far better off than we are. In her state right now where she is, the happiest she has ever been here is like stark depression in comparison.

It is definitely a time like this that I can even more appreciate the meaning of the resurrection. The study of the resurrection is not an isolated point to prove that Christianity is true. It is something that changes the course of history entirely. I do agree with the claim that apart from the resurrection of Jesus, there is no other hope for mankind.

While we will mourn for a season, especially when the funeral takes place and the reality sinks in the most, we mourn not for Joy, but for ourselves. We are at a loss for not being able to directly interact with her any more for now. There can be no tears shed for Joy. Her battle is over. Her pain is gone. She is in the presence of her Lord. There are tears for those of us left behind and a reminder of why we do what we do. We look forward to the day when the curse will be broken and God will make all things new.

Until then, there will always be an empty part in those of us who knew Joy as we await the time when God will right all the wrongs and reverse all the sufferings. Let us live our lives in a far greater light now realizing the impact that one life has made and will have throughout the centuries. Joy was impacted by those who came before her. Mike has his own impacts through his work. I in turn will have my own impact and if Allie and I have children, they will get the legacy of their great-grandmother. What we do and what happens in the future will be done in part from the work of a simple woman who just sought to honor Christ in her life and set Him first. We in apologetics do far less if we only seek to prove Christianity but do not set Christ first.

Joy’s pebble has already landed in the pond of our timeline, but the circles that go out will go far beyond what she had ever thought and may we do the same and give Christ all that we have and let him see what He will do with the circles that come forward.

May the memory of Joy be eternal and may we always carry it in our hearts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters