Question:

Today I received the news that a friend (I find no other word to call him right now) of mine from church threw himself in front of a bus and died. I cried a lot because I really cared about him, most people in his family treated him like an idiot, but he was just a simple guy. He was not the kind of person who made big plans for life or anything, he was just living and he liked to work. After I stopped crying I thought: How can I be better?

I mean, I don't want to die now because my parents and my family would suffer a lot, but there were times when I wanted to disappear or die in the past. Of course I'd never kill myself, my parents would be completely destroyed.

Now I wonder, am I having a wrong view of life? Should I live my life not thinking only about my family? I start to think about the possibilities: What if my whole family died? How would I deal with it? Would I give up? What would keep me going? And I just don't know the answer.

But I have to! I want to live for a very good reason. I don't want to die or kill myself! I love my family, but I believe what I'm searching for is for something even greater than other people. How can I find a reason to keep living through God?

Do you know what I mean? I have to have my own reasons for living. God didn't put me here for nothing! I want to accomplish something He wants me to do, and I want to feel complete! I don't want to be like my friend from church. I really hope he's fine even if he killed himself. God knows his heart and what he has been through. It's easy for me to say he's going to hell for killing himself. I don't know how he felt, right? But I want to live because I believe it's the right thing to do! I just want to have a stronger reason than "doing the right thing."

People die, dreams might fail, but God is absolute and eternal. I was thinking about that earlier. How can I find this undestroyable reason for living? I want to do something that makes me feel complete. What is it?

I guess I just want some motivation to keep going with school, and a higher motivation to keep on living and smiling. How can I find contentment? You always tell me about that. Please, help me again. I just wish I'd be living next to your church. It'd be awesome. I'd still have problems, but I'd know how to deal with them easier! In the future I want to go there.


Answer:

I'm sorry about your loss. I hate to hear of people throwing away a perfectly good life.

I'm glad you realize that there is purpose to life, even if you are not certain what yours is at the moment. Yes, almost all young people, especially young men, go through periods where they think about suicide. I suspect that it has to do with the rewiring of the brain for adulthood. Most of us discard the thoughts as foolishness, but for a few it comes at bad moments in life. Then too, things like drug and alcohol use reduce the normal rejection of such ideas and a person does what should not be done.

I hear of people like your friend and wish I could have talked to him, but sadly the opportunity never came. What he did was out of my control. It was out of your control as well, so don't ever blame yourself for another person's poor decisions.

The thing about "what if" questions is that those situations rarely or never happen. What would you do? You would survive and find new meaning to your life. Sure, there would be a long period of grief and recovery, but every Christian knows this life is temporary anyway, even for those who live here for a long time. "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). So while we are here, we make the best of what can be hard situations. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

By the way, the whole book of Ecclesiastes is about finding the purpose to life. It might be a good book to read and study sometime. I'll tell you the final conclusion: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). This life is about getting prepared for the next life. And when we follow God's advice, hardships aren't removed, but we are better able to handle them and avoid the common pitfalls.

Contentment is a choice you make to be happy with what you have. It isn't that you don't work for improvements, but that your happiness is not dependent on those improvements. The failure of so many people is to think they can be happy only if something changed. It is a deception because a person can be happy regardless of circumstances.

And you're welcome to come any time.