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September 25, 2008

Rest in peace

0924montgomery188 Recent articles by L. M. Montgomery's granddaughter and biographer have put something of a damper on this year's Anne of Green Gables centennial celebration. According to these articles, the beloved author probably took her own life. (Her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, says she did; biographer Mary Rubio, who had access to more materials than Butler, seems not quite as certain, but concedes that it's most likely true.)

Frankly, having read Montgomery's published journals, I wasn't surprised. The journals record the life of a deeply sensitive, lonely, depressed woman who became increasingly unable to cope with trouble and loss. But aside from feeling sorry for her, I also feel sorry for the fans who have reacted with shock and incredulity. It's always painful to learn that our idols are human and capable of doing wrong.

In a cryptic note discovered after her death, Montgomery asked for God's forgiveness. I pray He granted her the peace that eluded her in life.

(Image © National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)

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Andrea Newell


Thank you for a sensitive handling of a very difficult subject.

I remember that in a church we once attended, a member of the congregation took his own life, leaving behind a grieving family. One of our teaching elders, who was scheduled to preach that Sunday, referred to the event as Satan using the deceitfulness of sin to "take a beloved brother from us."

Now, of course he was right in many senses. Sin is deceitful. It can make even believers feel utterly hopeless. To take one's own life is undoubtedly as grievous a sin as to take another's life, since ultimately neither really belong to us... and a believer, more than anyone, should know that "we are not our own, we are bought with a price."

However, the painful implications of his words threatened to take away a powerful consolation for the family. Jesus said that He could lose none of those whom the father had given Him, that they would all be raised up at the last day. And Paul rhetorically asked if anything, even life or death, could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. The answer was an emphatic no.

Not that any should be deceived into believing that mere church membership or a profession of faith by itself is enough to rob the wages of sin.

Rather, we as genuine believers are not (thank God) relying on our own strength and perseverence and righteousness to purchase heaven. It is all grace, from our belief through the end of our sanctification.

Many consequences of sin cannot be averted. If you aim a gun and pull the trigger, the bullet will not be miraculously stopped. But the very worst consequence, the second death and endless separation from God, was the reason that Jesus took our sins upon himself. There is no longer any condemnation to those truly in Christ.

Of course, none of us could know, none of us could tell this poor man's family for certain that he died in Christ. It would certainly seem that to reject one's own life is a rejection of God. But if God has the mercy to forgive me the many times I've rejected his will for me, I believe we can still hope He might have mercy on a perpetraror/ victim of suicide.

It's in His own hands, and His alone.

I join my prayers with yours for Christ's mercy on L.M. Montgomery, and others who are tempted to despair.


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