Christians should offer support not disdain

February 3, 2009

I got the call two weeks ago that a close friend from high school had committed suicide. That Friday at the funeral back home, I walked into an auditorium filled with people, more than I have ever known in my lifetime. My late friend, who was in the room but no longer with us, could not have seen the enormous outpouring of sadness over her decision to take her life.

It’s only natural that when you leave a funeral, especially one involving suicide, you begin to evaluate your life. My friend was someone who had always looked out for those who were lonely and forgotten. She always was the first one to include others and the last to laugh at another’s expense. When I looked around the room and saw all the people with whom I had gone to high school and junior high, I couldn’t help but be humbled. Would this many people show up for my funeral? Some of the faces in the crowd I know I had made fun of in the past, I know I had put them down during my days in high school. She hadn’t; she had found a way to love almost everyone.

My friend always had been a great source of encouragement; I don’t know how she got so discouraged herself. The experience made me wonder how many people around me are suffering with depression or any number of problems that come with day-to-day life. How many people have I passed who simply needed a word of encouragement? How many people am I passing who just need someone to listen?

This semester I realized so many people around me are struggling with any number of issues. I have seen many “cardboard testimonials” at various churches where people, many of whom I thought lead near perfect lives, came forward to reveal things they have struggled or are currently struggling with everyday. It’s powerful. It’s also eye-opening to just know how many people I bump into on a daily basis who are silently suffering through their pain.

A Christian university like ACU should be the last place where people are put down or rejected. As Christians, we are called to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus, but too often we are the hands and feet that kick each other down instead of lifting one another up. There never exists an appropriate time to degrade another person, be they of a different race, religion, political affiliation or social club. That’s not who we have been called to be. We should be the first ones to show Jesus through our actions.

If you are suffering with depression or thoughts of suicide, get help, reach out. If someone around you seems lost or you sense something is wrong, be there for them. I know after my experience with my late friend I will think twice about putting someone down when I should be offering a listening ear.

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