It became an issue of uttermost concern to me after the last sharing on Sunday in Ketu House Fellowship Lagos, to write this. It is pertinent to put down just a slice of what I feel in the simplest way I can. I kept meditating on the words of the brother that stirred me most:”we must open up ourselves unto brotherly love, unto good counsel…” How my heart rejoiced and also sank when he said “there are no hopeless situations but there are hopeless ways of thinking”. At once, I caught it, that is the state of the world, infact the church. The church is going into an estate of despondency and needs to be drawn back by every means possible to stand on the Solid Rock.
Hell has opened her mouth and is swallowing her victims in fierce gulps, without mercy. The world is going into a global economic, environmental, political, social and moral crash. The situation becomes worst in Nigeria where economic hardship is saddled with a bad government, that is blind to the plight of the masses. Millions of Nigerians are hard pressed to make ends meet, living from hand to mouth. Yearly, educational institutions turn out large numbers of graduates. Sadly, these promising youths find themselves idle when their parents have contributed huge sums towards their educational pursuit. This in a measure has resulted to the growing rate of suicide.
Suicide is gradually taking a toll in our churches. It is having a field day and wishes to continue its gimmicks. In all these, what are the messages some of our preachers preach today? “If you are not rich, if you don’t have this or that then you are not living the Christian Life or you are not serving God the way you ought to”. Members are put in a tight corner and frustration creeps in because they feel out of place. This results to many things. Where is the comfort, solace and hope in the church?
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 800,000 people die by suicide annually and there are many others who attempt suicide. This is just an underestimation as there are many cases that have not been documented or reported. To this, Nigeria ranks fifth with 15,000 suicides in every 100,000 suicides. The Suicide Research and Preventions Initiative has found that about one-fifth of suicide cases seen at its affiliated institutions are those aged 13-19 years and that over 50% the crisis calls received through it’s hotlines are aged 13-29 years; 27.8% were students. This should be a point of sober reflection for anyone who has the youths at heart considering that the Nigerian Youth Policy (2009) defines youths as those aged 18-35 years while the African Youths Charter defines it as 15-35 years.
Economic factors, terminal illnesses, frustration and depression resulting to mental sickness are top risk factors for suicide. Medical and health experts are worried about the current situation of things and have warned that Nigeria would likely witness increase in suicide rates. It is true that traditional bonds and ties that once existed between families and friends have disappeared and the society is accelerating into frivolities. Childhood traumas, guilt and loss have also been factors. Technologywhich claims to connect us through social networks is gradually turning the world to a self-village. Does social media really connect or disconnect us? This is a topic for another time. The e-world is boosting individualism and birthing people with less social and inter-personal skills, fake (make believe personalities) which leads to low self-esteem in others when they can’t measure up to that standard. These are individuals who might have been struggling with personality problems already. An increase in substance abuse too has been a determinant where there are cases of extreme overdose and the victims never woke up. This has also eaten deep into the fabric of the church and must be combated. Once upon a time, suicide was no friend of Nigeria and Nigerians were not readily known to end their lives by suicide. But in these days, hardly does a week pass without at least one reported case of suicide in the country. Clear examples of suicide cases are students taking their lives due to exams failure, drug abuse, financial issues e.t.c., The most recent one causing a stir is that of a gospel minister of a popular Nigerian church who hung himself with his belt due to some personal issues that led to depression. He was just a young man who probably had great dreams and ambition. We might be quick to judge him and ask questions like “was he even truly born again?”, “did he even know God?” and so many more. Oh yes to all the questions. Pray you never get into the dilemma he got to without effective spiritual backup and resistance. Probably at some points in our lives, we felt like ending it all due to an unbearable situation but we were able to get past it; Praise God! Some never did. Examples of men in the Bible who committed suicide had cases that stemmed from hopelessness, defeat, guilt, loss of vision and fear of the future. Men like King Saul and his armor bearer (1Sam 32:3-5), Abimelechi (Judges 9:50-55), Ahitophel (2Sam 9:50-55), Zimri (1Kings 16:15-20), Judas (Matt27:3-4) and even the great Samson who lost his visions (Judges16:25-30). We must recognize that we have a REAL enemy whose entire aim is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). The devil is out with great fury and indignation together with his demons to make men portals of death by creating a sustained atmosphere which if not curbed by a greater power results to suicide (Rev6:3-8). The church must arise and fortify her defense cities because the enemy will keep advancing without retreat. It is time for the church to put her gaze on Jesus more than ever before just as the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1-2. We should look unto Jesus who has trod this path before and for that joy that was set before Him endured all things. We must understand that worldly possessions will not give us joy. Even if they do, it’s just for a while. The joy of a believer in difficult circumstances is “the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ that it will not always be like this”. When we feel void and empty, He alone is able to fill that vacuum. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of Christ, come what may as long as we are looking unto Him (Rom8:38-39). When we feel there is no hope for the future, we should remember that He knew us before conception and His plans for us are perfect (Jer 29:11). There was one, our father Abraham who hoped against hope and he wasn’t put to shame (Rom 4:18). I have come to realize that we need to trust Him even if we don’t understand what He is doing. We just follow with our eyes set on Him. When we are down and the world is spinning. When the world seems to be against us, He is nearer to us in that state (Ps 34:18-19). We can cast all our cares and burdens upon Him because He cares for us (Ps 55:22). When the thought of guilt overwhelms us and it seems there is no way out, we can come back in absolute repentance and plead for the blood of Jesus that was shed for circumstances like this (Rom 8:1&2, Eph 1:7,Heb 9:14). Suicide is not and cannot be an option because we have victory through the blood of Jesus. Finally brethren, it is time to allow the love of Christ flow like streams from our hearts towards one another. It is time to open up ourselves unto brotherly love and unto good counsel. These are seasons of great turbulence and tempest that need drastic measures. No wonder the Bible tells us to meet even more as we see the days approaching (Heb 10:25). It makes it clear to us that “they that feared the Lord spake often one to another” because difficult situations that warrant speaking will come (Mal 3:16). Beloved it is time to talk to each other more than ever before. It is a time of counselling as often as possible. We won’t allow each other to die in silence. We will hold the hands of our brethren and pray for each other. Fathers, it is time to take up spiritual sons, mothers it is time to take up spiritual daughters in prayer and the word with all seriousness. Dads and moms its time to have in-depth chats with our children to know what’s up. Youths, we shall take the hands of each other and march on to victory. It is not a time to be alone, we must team up. It is not a time to be silent, we must talk and rebuke where necessary. We shall tap into a higher supply of power and grace in Christ Jesus. Our walls are fortified and our cities secured. We cannot fall prey to the predator. We continue to advance without retreat because the church is marching on and the gates of hell cannot prevail.