Last week, I woke up early to attend the funeral of a close relative. The poor lad had taken his own life. Add to that the fact that he left behind neither wife nor child and you will see the utter distress his death has caused his African family. Why did he do it?
As I dressed up, the Christian radio preacher I had so far ignored grabbed my attention. “Go stand before a mirror,” he urged. I was already before a mirror.
“What do you see in that mirror? Do you see a person who is grateful to God for waking up well and is ready to face the day with hope, or do you see a sad person who has no idea what to do with this day?
“Do you see in the mirror the glorious image and likeness of God, a person for whom Christ has died and would do anything to protect, or do you see a lonely and fearful figure?
“Do you see a man fully alive, energetic and hopeful, or do you see a defeated man who has given up and is slowly dying?
“Do you see a wife or wife-to-be who is supportive, caring and calm or do you see one who is nagging, anxious, loud and moody?
“Do you see a husband or husband-to-be who loves his family, protects and provides for it, or do you see a tyrant who must have his way because he is the head of the home?
“Do you see a confident person who takes responsibility for his choices and accepts his limitations with grace, or do you see a person who loves the status of victim and routinely shifts the blame?”
Of course the preacher did not ask his questions exactly in this order or wording. But you get the point. We could add many more questions to this list, all of them variations of only one question: How do you see your life?
How did my little brother see himself before he concluded that there was no longer a reason to live? Why did he feel so hopeless?
Addressing young people in Angola during his recent visit to Africa, Pope Benedict urged them to hope amidst their many hardships: “My young friends, you hold within yourselves the power to shape the future. I encourage you to look to that future through the eyes of the Apostle John. Saint John tells us: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth…”
Did my little brother see a new heaven and a new earth, or only darkness whenever he opened his eyes in the days and months before he took that most unfortunate step?
Again the pope said: “Yes, my friends! God makes all the difference ... and more! God changes us; he makes us new!”
What about me? Has my Christian faith helped me to see a new heaven and a new earth? Do I have a “new” understanding of my work, my wife/husband, traffic jams, job loss, high prices, sickness, the landlord, my boss? As a Christian, how am I different in the way I look at life? What is my chief motivation?
What had been my brother’s chief motivation in life? And what happened to it? When he seemed to be recovering well, those at his bedside asked him why he had chosen to end his life. He remained secretive, only saying that he would give out all the details when he fully recovered.
Then his condition worsened. “You cannot help me now,” he mumbled. And a while later: “I see darkness.” He then shut his eyes to the world forever.
Get a mirror. Look into it. What do you see? Look into your future. Do you see a new heaven and a new earth?
Henry Makori is the editor of CISA news.