It has always been difficult for me to understand the impulse to end one’s life. Today, we hear a lot about how religious beliefs can lead a person to suicide. We are told that those who kill innocent people in the name of their religion are promised a place in the afterlife of eternal bliss if their own life is also sacrificed.
There must be more to it than that. For one thing, no one can prove this promise to be true and certainly fulfilled. Given the natural instinct for survival, I believe there must be multiple factors involved.
One of the most pessimistic books ever to be written is the biblical Ecclesiastes. In it, the man who calls himself the Preacher declares that all things under the sun are vain and meaningless. The reason he could say this confidently is that he claims to have tried it all. While most people spend their lives in pursuit of pleasure, material wealth, fame, etc., he had it all from the beginning.
In the end, he learned that real meaning can only be found in a relationship with God Who created us all, and that all human activities can be satisfying as we find wholeness, completeness in Him.
Where are you in this journey? Are you still believing that if you get this particular job, find this perfect mate, fulfill this special dream some day that you will finally be satisfied and content? Thankfully, many of us have the opportunity to better our situation, and that is a good thing. But according to the Preacher, all will be disappointed if and when they reach their chosen destination apart from God.
People who delight in killing themselves and others as terrorists often are those who have already discovered the vanity of their existence. Not having the opportunities of a free society, they not only develop a hatred for the wealthy and free, but also a longing to escape their own misery.
Only the affluent cultures can continue longer in the illusion that there is happiness to be found, for like the carrot before the horse, it yet dangles before them. We in the West in our smug superiority do not really know how we would respond to the dark reality that people around the world experience every day.
Those who in despair turn to Christ and His mercy can endure the vanity and seeming hopelessness of the world around them. Their desire is not to destroy life but to share it with others. Their hope is not in this life alone, but this life most certainly has meaning, comfort, love, joy, peace and purpose because of Him.
Let us pray that Christ will be seen and received by potential terrorists in oppressed societies, as well as by the street gangs, the drug lords, the corporate pirates, the educated and elite, the working class, and the homeless in our communities. In Him we can find the true nobility of humanity, that was created by God to reflect His very beauty, glory, wisdom, grace and love!