COLOURS OF LIFEÂ With Koko Kalango
Welcome to the 12th and final month of the year. For many of us it is a time to look back, take stock and make plans towards the coming year.
The end of 2017 has certainly given us much to remember it by â€“ we have been made aware of harrowing stories of modern day slavery and slave trade of Nigerians in Libya, the terrible loss of lives of Nigerians trying to make it illegally to Europe in search of greener pastures. In the Western world men who have hitherto been in the habit of sexually harassing women are being called out. In Nigeria the polity is heating up; political activities are gaining momentum, political parties are coming alive with alliances, permutations and plans as we approach an active political season. Above all, it is the month in which President Trump has taken a historic decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy there, thereby fulfilling prophecy and setting the stage for the return of Jesus Christ.
This is also Christmas month and we can easily get swamped in the commercialisation of Christmas – gatherings over gourmet meals, festivities, exchange of gifts, planning for various outings, decorating houses, shops, streets, travelling.
Putting a pause on routine end-of-year activity and making time for reflection is a good way to prepare to transit from one year to another.
As the year runs its last lap, for many of us there may be a feeling that there is little to be joyful about. We join the crowd in jubilation but eventually we will be left alone to face our personal reality. When the music fades and the noise dies down, when the party partners have left and we have no one but ourselves for company, we are hit with the Christmas blues; we are surrounded by people and yet we feel terribly lonely, we are accomplished by every standard and are even the envy of many but we have a sense of hopelessness. Many homes are struggling:Â marriages are in turmoil, children are unruly. There are numerous young men and women who had wished to settle down by now and begin a family but there just seems to be a scarcity of â€˜wife materialâ€™ and â€˜husband materialâ€™. Some are still waiting for that child and time is running out! Some of us are praying that the next doctorâ€™s report will bring good news. There are amongst us those who have found themselves in one entanglement or another be it legal, financial or relational. Others have worked towards a financial target, expected a promotion on the job, contemplated a change, and we seem no closer to these blessing than we were in January.
In short this end of year appears like nothing but a time of coming face to face with our broken dreams and unfulfilled promises. Many are discouraged. In the extreme people are giving up on life â€“ hence the alarming rate of suicides being reported in Nigeria. This is a worrying trend and indeed a reflection of the general state of mind of people.
Whereas I donâ€™t believe appointing a Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose fulfillment is the solution to our problems, even this tells us our general welfare is increasingly becoming cause for concern. The truth is times are tough and many people are struggling to make ends meet. But even those who do make ends meet materially are struggling in other ways â€“ welcome to life!
While all the blessing we have prayed and waited for are important, necessary and legitimate, in themselves they do not satisfy. And even when our prayers do get answered, the needs will not cease – challenges are part of life, they are here to stay. It is then logical to plan to make life worthwhile in spite of them. And one of the ways is by being intentionally thankful. No wonder the Psalmist says in Psalm 107:1 â€˜Oh give thanks to the Lord for His mercies endure foreverâ€™.
If we find it difficult to be thankful, I suggest a trip to the hospital. It should help us be thankful.
Beyond the euphoria of this season, Christmas brings a message of love, redemption and blessings. Christmas is God stepping from eternity into time, wearing flesh and dying on the cross so that you and I can be reconciled to Him.
Christmas is peace beyond human understanding, and we experience this when we receive His salvation. Christmas heralds us into a life of purpose, as we know Him we become a people headed somewhere. We can wake up each day with bright eyes and a satisfied smile. No, our problems have not disappeared. We are still surrounded by challenges but we have an invisible reservoir from which we can draw strength. We are no longer afraid of the future because we have hope. And because of this hope we look forward to tomorrow.
Let us make this a December to Remember by looking back at the year, counting our blessings, and giving God thanks, in spite of the challenges.