In Memory of Stephen Gant

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.

And, a lot of people have asked if this is the ultimate sin…a deal-breaker with God.  I’ve tried to respond to their questions with as much tenderness and truth as I can.  Here’s what I’ve said:

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.


Filed under Theology

8 responses to “In Memory of Stephen Gant

  1. I was just reading about him on DNJ online. Truely a tragic ending for a young man that had his whole life in front of him. I pray that his family and friends find peace in his death and his death might be used to bring someone to know Christ.

  2. Gina Leake

    I’m so sorry to hear of this young mans passing…. so sad. Grateful for your writing and thoughts. Praying for this family and his friends.

  3. Jan Hubbard

    I appreciate your and David Prowleson’s thoughts on suicide. Our son, Mark, lost a soccer team mate to suicide. As a parent it is hard to discuss what has happened. I remember telling Mark that the act of suicide in my opinion was a split second of hopelessness and total dispair. If he had been interupted before completing the act, he might have returned to his dark thoughts with even one bit of hope and stopped. As you stated, perhaps no one but the victim knows. All he knows is that he cannot bear this all consuming pain. For that moment, there is only one answer.

  4. Stan

    Good comments and thoughts on a truly sad situation.

  5. Bethany Cole

    This is a reminder to talk to your kids. Let them know that no problem should be solved like this. Hear what they have to say. Make sure they know to come to you in times that they have no hope and to always look to the Father. Make sure they know to tell someone if they know of a friend who is threatening suicide.

  6. LaShonda

    Insightful. Everything that looks good is not always…and we never know what pressure, thoughts, or feelings a person is experiencing. Especially men because they are the least likely to open up. Thanks for sharing

  7. Dana E.

    Years ago, I was looking through my HS Yearbook and I didn’t remember 1/3 of the people in it. I came to a page honoring a girl that had committed suicide the summer before her senior year – over a failed relationship. I felt sick and sad at the thought that those circumstances which seemed so important to her in high school – if she had not shot herself, maybe she would have been looking through the yearbook 20 years later wondering who half the people were and why she let them bother her in any way.

  8. Chris

    Thank you for writing this. I come back and read it from time to time. I was lucky enough to coach Stephen on those two teams that represented our great state. He did his part and played a great role in our success. I’ve never coached anyone quite like him and getting to know him he meant a great deal to me. He is still missed to this day. On November 26, 2014 the good lord gave me my first son. I named him Gant…

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