ASK BOB: “Is suicide justifiable for someone in extreme pain?”

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.


My friend is contemplating suicide. She is in so much physical pain it is UNBEARABLE. She had a spiritual conversion at age 35 and has been a wonderful Christian since that time. In fact, she’s one of the most giving people I know. She, of course, does not want to end up in hell. Your thoughts on this issue, please.

I’m really sorry to hear about your friend’s intense suffering.  I’ve been so blessed with good health most all my life that it’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to live with excruciating pain every day. That’s tough! Does she have any hope of relief in the future? Can prescribed medicine from her doctor ease her suffering?  I certainly hope so.

While my heart goes out to her, I am confident that suicide is not God’s will, no matter how much she is hurting.  The command not to murder certainly applies to taking our own life.  The Bible says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Since our body belongs to God, we don’t have the right to terminate even our own life.

Although I don’t agree with the position of some that suicide is an unpardonable (or mortal) sin and always consigns one to hell, I would never endorse suicide as a means of escape.  It’s sobering to think of standing before God on Judgment Day when the very last thing I did on earth was to disobey His will and take my own life.

As much as your friend hurts I pray she will focus on three significant purposes of suffering:

(1) It deepens our appreciation of the hope of heaven where God will remove all pain and wipe all tears from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).
(2) It helps us better appreciate the suffering Christ endured for us(1 Peter 4:13).
(3) It expands our opportunities to witness (2 Cor. 12:10).

C.S. Lewis once suggested that pain was God’s megaphone.  He shouts to us in our pain.  But pain is also a spotlight.  People watch carefully to see how we react in suffering.  If we can share a positive testimony about how our faith in Christ sustains us, God may use us more in a few weeks of intense suffering than in a lifetime of ease.

Please assure your friend that God has not forsaken her.  He is probably closer to her now than ever.  He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us.  He has a purpose for her life even though she can’t see it now.

I pray she will find the same comfort from the Lord that the Apostle Paul did.  When Paul prayed for the removal of his, “thorn in the flesh,” God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

The Apostle then answered, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8-10).

Thanks for caring so much for your friend.  Keep praying that God will ease her pain and empower her through these difficult times.

Ann Voskamp wrote, “Giving thanks is that: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God when Satan and all the world would sneer at us to recant.”

– Bob

* Further reading – See August 12, 2012 blog “Is Suicide The Unpardonable Sin?”

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Associate Minister’s Gathering

November 5-8, 2017

featuring Bob Russell

and Doyle Roth

Encouraging, Equipping and 

Empowering Associate Ministers

at Country Lake Retreat Center 

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