On Tuesday, high school senior Stephen Gant took his life. He committed suicide. Took a gun and ended his pain.
RIP, Stephen. You will be missed.
I got to know Stephen two years ago in Oklahoma when Team Tennessee played in the Junior Sunbelt Tournament. My son, Griffin, was on the team and got to know Stephen well. Stephen had the mentality of a star pitcher…a little eccentric, a little goofy, a lot of fun, and to quote Crash Davis in Bull Durham, he had “…a gift. When he was a baby, the Gods reached down and turned his right arm into a thunderbolt.”
Gant could throw gas. Lightning bolts right by the batter. And, he took it all in stride. Looked like he was still playing Little League, having fun…which is the way it should be. He was chosen to play for Team Tennessee as a sophomore. That team lost in the finals to Team Georgia in 2010. In 2011, Gant returned to Oklahoma with Team Tennessee…this time, though, he led them straight to the title.
People noticed. Lots of people. So much so, that he signed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt. And, he was high on the list for this year’s MLB draft. One sports columnist said he was a potential first-rounder. Wow. First round…that’s big money…and every boy’s dream.
This is sad. It’s a kick in the gut. Not because Gant was a special player, or a Vanderbilt signee, or an MLB first-round draft pick. But, because he’s a kid…a kid with a bright future. Apparently, though, none of that mattered to him. He hurt himself, and in the process hurt a lot of other people.
A lot of people have asked “why?”. Who knows? Maybe Stephen is the only one who knows.
1. This is not a deal-breaker. Suicide is self-murder, and it’s a sin. But, like other sins and deeds of disobedience to God, it was nailed to the cross when Jesus died there. When we repent, and believe, all our sins…past, present and future…are forgiven. Some believe that suicide is sin from which one cannot repent. However, we are grateful that our salvation does not depend upon what we’ve done for God, but our faith in what Christ has done for us.
2. God is sovereign and has a plan for our lives (Psalm 139:16) In the act of suicide, we supercede God’s plans and create our own. In other words, we elevate our own desires above what God has planned for us.
3. Our identity…who we are…is in Christ. When we place our identity in something or someone else, and that thing or person pulls away from us, we’re sometimes left feeling hopeless and without purpose. Our only hope is in Christ…in Christ alone.
4. Suffering is part of this fallen, sinful world. It’s part of our lives. My pastor, Mike Lee, says, “Your either going into a crisis, in a crisis, or coming out of a crisis.” God hasn’t promised that, just because we’re Believers, everything is going to be good living from here on out. We’re going to endure sufferings and trials of all sorts…that’s the result of sin entering this world.
David Powlinson, a Christian counselor, writes about suicide. He can answer questions about these things far better than I can.