Juli Wilson, wife of late associate pastor Jarrid Wilson, shared the Bible verse sustaining her in the wake of her husband taking his own life.
On Instagram, she revealed that her husband, who was 30 when he chose to end his life after a lifelong battle with depression and anxiety, had sent her a photo of Philippians 4:6-7 just months before his untimely death.
The verse reads: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
“Jarrid sent me this photo of this bible verse a few months ago while he was at work. It’s speaking to my heart tonight,” Juli captioned the photo.
Jarrid, most recently an associate pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, had been open about his mental health struggles and advocated for churches to help those who were hurting.
In 2016, the Wilsons founded Anthem of Hope, a mental health nonprofit that sought to amplify hope for those who are “battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”
Following her husband’s death, Juli said she “wouldn’t let” suicide “get the last word” and vowed to continue championing suicide prevention.
“You’re in the safest arms, my sweet jarrid. I am confused, completely heartbroken and jealous that you are face to face with our savior all in one. You are in HIS presence. What a glorious day that will be when we are all reunited at his feet together. Until then, he is holding on tight to the boys and I during these horribly dark days,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I have such a deep peace knowing he’s holding your hand right now too. I love you so much, babe. I miss you beyond words. I will continue to shout your anthem of hope until my very last breath,” she added, referencing the suicide prevention project.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34, and one in five adults experience mental illness each year, according to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet, just 43.3% of adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018.
News of Jarrid’s death comes just months after 30-year-old Andrew Stoecklein, a pastor in Chino, California, took his own life after struggling with mental illness.
In response to several high-profile suicides among pastors and people in the mental health community, churches across the U.S. have reassessed how they approach the issue of mental illness.
Greg Laurie, the longtime leader of Harvest Christian Fellowship, stressed last week that suicide does not condemn people to hell, arguing that people will not be judged for the last thing they did before death, but the last thing Jesus did before His death.
“Jarrid had put his faith in Christ, and that’s why I believe, right now, he is in the presence of the Lord in heaven,” he said.
“One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross,” Laurie added, reciting Romans 8:38, which reads: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Laurie also issued a word of caution to those who are tempted to make assumptions about Jarrid’s death, adding: “We don’t know what was going on in his mind that night. He was dealing with medical challenges and other extenuating circumstances we know nothing of. So, it’s really not fair to be passing judgment — this is a time for compassion.”
From Job to Elijah, several leading biblical figures suffered from debilitating depression and mental health issues, Laurie stressed, yet are rightly held up as heroes of the faith.
“Job wished he had never been born. Jeremiah, at least on one occasion, wanted to die. Jonah wanted to die too,” he said. “We can have times of depression, we can have times where we’re sad, and it doesn’t mean our faith is gone or we’re a failure as believers. It means we’re hopelessly human and we constantly need Christ.”