The only phone call of the day was an anonymous caller asking for pastoral care. With John away and with my former life as a counselor, I took it, if only to see if it would require referral or if I could help. She had gotten into a terrible injury accident years ago and was still embroiled in the legal and insurance battles associated with it. She described herself as being "someone God could always count on," but in the midst of things and out of fear of not being taken care of, she lied under oath in a deposition yesterday. She was crushed and mentioned considering suicide.
I'm thankful that I've dealt with suicidal gestures before; I can't imagine what it would have been like for someone without training and experience to field this call. We talked about Peter, his certainty that he would never fail Jesus, his subsequent denial, and Christ's special concern for him after His resurrection. I simply asked her if she could see herself in that story, and if Peter had somehow outsinned God's grace. Then we went through example after example: Abraham's fathering Ishmael, Moses striking the rock more than once, etc. We sin when we are afraid that God won't come through for us, when we believe that we have to look out for ourselves until He shows up or in case He doesn't.
It's an awesome privilege to hear someone's confession and proclaim Christ's forgiveness of sin—the gospel, the ministry of reconciliation between God and man. I emphasized to her that I wasn't even going to talk to her about what she needed to do, only about who she is and how God deals with her sin. "Imperatives are always based on indicatives"—we learn to follow and obey because of who God has first declared us to be. The weight of being "someone God could always count on" was likely as heavy if not heavier than her sin. We don't make it happen. If we believe that we do, then suicide can indeed feel like a way to respond when we fail. She needed to see herself in Peter.
I hope I was faithful in giving her truth and hope for that moment and forward, and I've been praying for her since. She's in His grip, and so am I.