A Reasoned Hope: Firm unto the End

Our thirty-first hard cover lectureship book is 451 pages on the subject of hope. Typically, in the January issue, we give a review of the entire lectureship book. However, an especially valuable and unique part of this lectureship book deals with mental health issues, especially depression and what to do in preventing and dealing with suicide. While there are great chapters in the 2024 book, the focus in this review concerns the chapters dealing with these mental health issues.

Too Young to Die: Depression
And Suicide in the Church

The following are excerpts from Daniel Stearsman’s chapter, titled as the header above.

This piece will take a biblically holistic view of depression, examining how the spiritual life connects with the psychological, social, and biological aspects of human nature (Sulmasy, “Bio,” 24). Sin is a driving, but not exclusive, factor in depression. Personal sin can lead a person into depression, and the sins of others can lead to hurt that then leads to depression. Both offenders and sufferers need God’s help. Extremes will be avoided that see depression as (1) exclusively remedied by medications without any notion of God; (2) exclusively remedied by therapies that eliminate or dispense with the Bible; or (3) exclusively see the Bible as a quick-fix, mind-over-matter, power-of-positive-thinking, just-pray-about-it, or just-get-over-it-already approach to depression. Instead, this piece will examine languishing, depression, and suicide by examining: (1) the current medical landscape; (2) hope and the Bible on mental health; (3) a lumbering elephant and the moral dimension of depression; and (4) eight ways the church can help.

Restoring Hope:
When Suicide Hits a Family

The following are excerpts from Jerry Martin’s chapter, titled as the header above.

It is generally thought that at least six people are intimately traumatized when someone dies by suicide, and the impact of such a death ripples out to touch hundreds of people. … The suicide loss survivors’ grief is often complicated by strong emotions and feelings surrounding self-blame associated with the context of their loved one’s death. The guilt and blame are felt for not preventing the suicide, for not seeing the signs, or for not being there when their loved one needed them. Sometimes, suicide loss survivors may feel they played a part in their loved one’s death. … Suicide is such a dark, confusing, incomprehensible, and fatal outcome of an intentional act that ends an individual’s life. The Bible only records seven suicides [Abimelech, Judg. 9:54; Samson, Judg. 16:30; King Saul, 1 Sam. 31:4-5; King Saul’s armorbearer, 1 Sam. 31:5; Ahithophel, 2 Sam. 17:23; Zimri, 1 Kgs. 16:18; and Judas, Mt. 27:5]. There is no elaboration in the Scriptures with any of the examples of suicide. To say the least, none of the individuals in the Scripture who committed suicide were standards of righteousness. …

Ways To Minister To
And Help Suicide Loss Survivors

If we know of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are many things we can do. … When expressing our condolences, use the loved one’s name (Cea). Too often, the stigma of suicide causes what appears to be a banning of the deceased loved one’s name, and an avoidance of the survivor. A genuine expression of empathy and compassion can be therapeutic by acknowledging the deceased and staying close to the survivor. … Accept The Survivor’s Time Line. … Show Up Promptly. … Sit Quietly In Their Presence. … Share Their Pain. … Serve Where And When Possible. … Stay Connected With Purpose. … Shine God’s Love To Light Their Path. …

Ways Survivors Of Suicide Loss
Can Help Themselves

Survivors must accept the truth that they are not responsible for their loved one’s death. The emotional grounding cannot occur until the survivor recognizes and accepts the reality that the suicide was the personal choice and action of the one who ended his or her life. Though there are often complicated family dynamics, mental illness challenges, medication side-effects, and other factors, the deceased individual is still the one who rejected all other life options. Accepting the truth that it was not the family’s fault in any form is essential to a healthy outcome to the grieving process. … Allow As Much Time As Needed To Grieve Your Loved One’s Death. … Assist Family And Friends When You Are Ready. … Access Available Resources. …

Ways To Help Increase
Church Members’ Understanding Of Suicide

Even though research supports a neurobiological basis for mental illness and its often connected to suicide, there is still the widespread stigma of shame. Many individuals who are in the depth of suicidal depression lose their problem-solving ability and often see life as unbearable. Most have a helpless and hopeless view of the future. Based on the accounts of individuals who have attempted suicide and lived, they acknowledge the primary goal of their suicide attempt was not to end their life, but to stop the pain. Those struggling with mental illness find it virtually impossible to hold on to the hope that things are going to get better. … Before attempting to help survivors of suicide loss, compassionate Christians, especially preachers, need to have an informed theology guiding their own feelings concerning suicide, death, mental illness, forgiveness, resurrection, and eternal life. Survivors will often struggle with the final destiny of their deceased loved one. They likely will have anxiety and confusion concerning whether the loved one is saved or eternally condemned. … Church leaders, if you have not already provided training for the congregation you shepherd, you should use the occasion of the tragedy as an opportunity to educate and engage the entire congregation in a way that informs everyone of the impact of suicide on the survivor. … The one place where survivors should find a safe, caring, supportive place to grieve openly and honestly, is the church of our Lord! The church should serve as a constant reminder of the living, constant, and boundless love of Christ. It is the love of Christ shared by Christians that restores hope.

The Role of Faith
In Treating Hopelessness
And Preventing Suicide

The following are excerpts from James Eaves’ chapter, titled as the header above.

Numerous studies done over the past few years have revealed what many Christians have long known regarding depression and suicide. Faith is a preventive factor against hopelessness and suicide. …

The range of scenarios that throw people into hopelessness are many. Job’s pitiful situation had his wife convinced he was better off dead (Job 2:9). King Saul and his armor bearer both lost all hope and took their own lives (1 Chr. 10:4-5). Let us not forget the betrayer Judas. When he realized his actions would result in the death of Jesus, “He went and hanged himself” (Mt. 27:5). These individuals failed to see any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. So many today are failing to see that light as well, or if they find a light, it is not the “true light” (Jn. 1:9). David said that God’s word was that light that lights our path (Ps. 119:105). …

God saw fit to leave us numerous examples of individuals who, though in seemingly hopeless situations, allowed their faith to blossom into hope that would guide them through those dark times [cf. Mt. 8:2; Lk. 8:42-48]. …

In Scripture, we find an example of a man with undeniable faith who was deeply lost in hopelessness (1 Kgs. 19). …We are not told why Elijah responded this way [cf. 1 Kgs. 19:2-4], but his fear and hopelessness were made apparent. … Let us notice the steps God took to help Elijah so we will be better equipped to help those around us who are struggling to see the hope … in Jesus. First, God sent an angel to Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:5). The first thing the angel did was touch the prophet. … It is common among those with depression to want to be alone. So, the first thing God did to help Elijah was restore that physical connection to others. … Second, the angel of the Lord provided sustenance for the prophet’s body. … Third, once Elijah had some time to regain his physical health, God gave him purpose [1 Kgs. 19:9]. … Fourth, God caused Elijah to think introspectively. God would ask, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kgs. 19:9, 13). Both times God listened to Elijah and did not cast judgment on his thoughts and feelings. … Finally, God provided a mission in Elijah’s life that would remind him he was not alone [cf. 1 Kgs. 19:18] … one of his tasks was to appoint a new king (1 Kgs. 19:16)! … A physical connection was restored through touch. Basic physical health was provided. Small tasks were given and accomplished. Open questions were asked, causing introspective thought. Elijah found purpose that showed him he was not alone. Might we be able to follow these same steps and help our brothers or sisters in their time of need?

The Church: A Safe Place To
Restore Hope & Meaning in Life

The following are excerpts from Joey Davis’ chapter, titled as the header above.

Most Bible students are familiar with the Book of Ecclesiastes, which records Solomon’s experimental quest to discover life’s meaning and purpose. Solomon contextualized his search as “under the sun,” a designation representing the mundane, material focus so prevalent in the hearts and lives of people. Of course, Solomon found no hope, no lasting purpose, and no real meaning in life in his “under the sun” search (Eccl. 2:10-11). In other words, if hope, purpose, and meaning in life are to be found, then people must look beyond the mundane—the search must involve something transcendental, something beyond this physical, material, and temporal world. To Solomon, God was the only source of what he sought (Eccl. 12:13) … The godless among us are at a loss at this juncture. They preach about a world without design that resulted from mere chance, and they obstinately reject God, the eternal creator, provider, and sustainer of all that exists. Therefore, their search for hope, purpose, and meaning in life is limited by the same parameters with which Solomon restricted his search. Consequently, these skeptics cannot write a script that truly motivates people to live with hope, purpose, and meaning. The climax of their story will always be “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor. 15:32). …

Despite the voluminous protests [as quoted by Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan] against a transcendental supplier of hope, purpose, and meaning in life, of which the foregoing is just a sampling, the evidence to the contrary remains insurmountable. … Interestingly, much research has been conducted to better understand the nature of hope, purpose, and meaning in life, as these relate to various issues of life, the results of which are very telling. This research consistently demonstrates the “empirical finding” that there is “a positive relationship” between spirituality and religion, life satisfaction, and a sense of life meaning (Kress et al.). …

Since the New Testament portrays the church of Jesus Christ as the entity suited for hope, purpose, and meaning in life, it is incumbent upon Christians to make sure that people have uninhibited access to the true New Testament church. We do this by publicly preaching the Gospel, and of necessity the one church, with boldness and conviction because we believe this is important for man’s greatest needs. … According to Maslow’s theory, an individual is motivated to fulfill these needs in hierarchical order from the lower (physiological) to the highest (self-actualization) … a person needs to meet these lower needs before the higher ones become factors for motivation. … It might be helpful to consider the findings of human researchers in light of what inspired Scripture has already recorded. … First, people have physiological needs such as food and clothing. Of course, Jesus promised to meet those needs [Mt. 6:25-34]. … Second, people have safety needs. … [People] need to know the God of the Shepherd Psalm [Ps. 23:4 cf. Rom. 15:33; Eph. 6:15]. … Third, people need love and belongingness. … Jesus impressed this need upon His followers [Jn. 13:34-35]. … Fourth, people have esteem needs. … So often individuals enter into adulthood having had the horrible experience of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of those who were charged with protecting and nurturing them. Consequently, they lack a sense of worth and value … They need to hear that … God … notices … them personally (Mt. 10:29-31). They need to know … every part [of Christ’s body] has its worth and can do its share (Eph. 4:16). They need to know that … church … culture … is to “esteem others better than self” (Phi. 2:3). … Fifth … people have self-actualization needs. This correlates with our need to see our purpose and to know and understand the meaning in our life. … our purpose here is to prepare for eternity [cf. Heb. 11:13] … to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13) … there is a place of equality in the body of Christ that is not based on race or socioeconomic status (Gal. 3:26-28). We absolutely must connect people with their transcendental purpose (Mt. 6:19-21). However, consistent with the observations made by Maslow, people are not inclined to digest instruction about laying up treasures in heaven when their minds are stuck on meeting their pressing physical needs in the moment.


Hope is a vast Bible subject. This book contains articles that will bring the major parts together to motivate us to be living sacrifices. Even hopelessness, as these excerpts show, can be overcome!