This post is copied by permission from good friends of ours Jesse and Gypsi Town. We feel we could not write a better article on this current topic.
“In Japan, more people died from suicide last month than from Covid in all of 2020.”
Can you believe that? I (Gypsi) had to read this headline from CNN several times before it sunk in. This article came to my attention at the end of a month full of other devastating headlines including news about civil wars and global poverty. Reading about the suffering all around the world I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are Jesse and I doing the most that we could be doing to alleviate the world’s suffering?”
I certainly don’t have enough experience with suffering to know what kind of suffering is worse than others but I am amazed by Mother Teresa’s conclusions.
“There is much suffering in the world – physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.”
“We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.”
Mother Teresa (1995). “A Simple Path-Open Market”
Mother Teresa’s words are literally true in Japan. People are dying because of a lack of love. The article from CNN is long (but worth reading if you have time) so here are a few points that struck me.
-In October, suicides among women in Japan increased almost 83% compared to the same month the previous year. For comparison, male suicides rose almost 22% over the same time period.
-“Japan has been ignoring women. This is a society where the weakest people are cut off first when something bad happens.”
-“It’s shameful for others to know your weakness, so you hide everything, hold it in yourself, and endure,” Kobayashi said. “We need to create the culture where it’s OK to show your weakness and misery.”
-While the reasons for Japan’s high suicide rate are complex, long working hours, school pressure, social isolation and a cultural stigma around mental health issues have all been cited as contributing factors.
Of course we agree that the reasons are complex, but the solution is simple.* Japan needs the good news of Jesus. As Mother Teresa said the only cure is love and “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16
Being reminded again of the real sickness in Japan and knowing that we have the cure leaves us feeling privileged with the task of sharing the hope we have in Jesus with our community. We marvel at God’s brilliance as we understand more and more how he has been shaping Jesse and I through out our lives to be used by him in this mission.