A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34, 35
I recently read a rather disturbing article that was posted on the Facebook page of the local newspaper. The article told of a man who found himself in such hopeless despair that he attempted to commit suicide by jumping off an overpass onto the freeway. Fortunately the cars on the freeway were able to stop without hitting him and by the grace of God he survived the ordeal.
As I thought about what I had just read, I said a quick prayer thanking God for sparing this man’s life and prayed that conditions would change for him mentally and emotionally, that he might use this second chance at life to his advantage.
Then as I continued to contemplate the situation, I went back to my military days. I remembered the suicide prevention classes we attended each year where we were refreshed on how to recognize the signs and symptoms in our peers that something amiss and what we might do to help prevent such a drastic act. My thoughts returned to the man from the news story. I wondered what it was that had driven him to such lengths. Had he been rejected by loved ones for mistakes he had made? Was he shunned by his community because of self-destructive habits? Were there signs in his behavior that those around him failed to pick up on? Was there a silent cry for help and everyone missed it? Somewhere along the way this brother came to the conclusion that things were so hopelessly discouraging, and that he was so unloved, that it would be better to end it all than to continue on in the misery and suffering that he was experiencing at that moment. I was in full empathy with him.
But, I had to bring it all into perspective for myself.
And for me I was reminded of the above biblical passage. If I was acquainted with this man, how would I have treated him? Would I have dismissed him simply because his lifestyle didn’t match up with mine? Would I have written him off because some of his behaviors were appalling to me? Would I have failed to express the love of God to him simply because I thought less of him? I’m humbled when I think of the path I’m on today compared to the path I use to walk. I was very fortunate that I had those around me that loved me when I was out there acting a fool. I knew that God loved me and wanted a better life for me. It was His love that finally brought me to a place where I was willing to surrender and change. Now He wants me to pay it forward because when I do, it just might be the one act of kindness that will bring someone back from the brink of despair and revive their willingness to continue on their journey through life. It may be the few words of encouragement that are the catalyst to some great achievement for another person. It may be that simple hug that lets someone know that they are indeed loved, that they are not worthless, that someone does care about them.
Let us all examine our relationships with those we regularly come in contact with.
Are there ways for us to better exemplify the love of Christ as we interact with others? Can we find ways to improve the quality of our relationships by being more attentive to the needs of others? Do we recognize when those around us may be silently suffering while acting as if all is well? How do we handle those situations? Let’s all strive to love others as Christ loves us. But in order to do so we must have the love of Christ in our hearts. A lack of this love within us is indeed suicide.
How do you express love to those in your life? Have you ever encountered someone who felt hopeless and helpless? How did you respond?