“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
Like a good number of people around the world I learned within the last few hours of the death of famous actor Robin Williams. I was shocked to hear the news. I can remember one of the first movies I saw as a child was one of his movies. Very versatile actor. Could be very funny and silly in one role and then give a very touching and serious performance in another. He was a master of comedic improv. I can’t remember one interview of his I’ve seen in the past where he wasn’t acting manic and spontaneous and unpredictable. Lot of energy. Lot of talent. I had actually thought about him in the preceding days. Possibly even the night before. I was reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet and I remembered he had been cast in Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 movie adaptation of the play.
Despite all that talent, the tons of money he earned, all the worldwide fame and accolades he enjoyed throughout his career he wasn’t a happy man from what I’ve read. At least not lately. He had struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism in the past. Of course there’s no way that he could have found true happiness and true peace outside of a relationship with the true God. No one can. We were created in the image of God and were created to fellowship with Him and serve Him. Without that living fellowship our lives can have no true meaning or lasting joy or inner peace. It’s the lesson which King Solomon learned in his life (Book of Ecclesiastes) and which it pleased God to leave us in His word for our instruction. How can anyone have true peace in this world even in the best of earthly circumstances when death awaits each of one of us and we go through this life carrying with us a guilty conscience which will not go away? And on top of that there’s all the injustice and suffering around us in this sin-cursed world.
Am I judging Robin Williams? No! Far from it! If God had not saved me when He did where would I be today? It’s something I think about at times. Maybe I would have ended up doing drugs. And it’s quite possible that I would have killed myself. If the Son of God had not come to die in the place of sinners I would have no hope today and no future and no true and lasting inner peace. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m a sinner saved entirely by God’s grace. Completely forgiven and justified before Him because of what Christ did. Unconditionally elected by God unto salvation while I deserved eternal hell for my sins. Elected not based upon God foreseeing my faith or foreseeing good works I would have performed. I had no merit whatsoever before God. Pure grace and love. Unmerited favor. It’s a love I could never appreciate fully or understand. Why me? Why me when there have been much nicer people than me who have not received the grace of believing in Christ (Philippians 1:29)? (Of course, I mean “nicer” from a human perspective. We’re all wicked and guilty in the sight of God. All without exception.) As I grow in my faith I have come to better understand what the Apostle Paul wrote concerning himself AS A BELIEVER: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
This shocking death makes me naturally think of depression which it seems led to Mr. Williams’s tragic end. Depression has led many souls to the grave and has been a tormentor of many, many believers throughout the centuries. One of the many “tribulations” (Acts 14:22) that Christians have had to deal with in the past. Some more than others. I wonder how many Christians have had a “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” Elijah moment (1st Kings chapter 19). If not for the grace of God and His precious Word I certainly would have sunk into some deeper depressions. In difficult times I have found particular comfort in these Bible passages:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“… him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37b)
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)
“I am black* [a sinner], but comely [justified by grace before God by faith in Jesus Christ]… ” (Song of Songs 1:5a)
* Solomon is using figurative language and the immediate context reveals that he is not talking about skin color in connection with a specific racial origin (black African)… this is the Bible and not the racist Book of Mormon
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1st Peter 5:7)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
A brother-in-Christ had mentioned finding a website which offered some Counseling resources (MP3 files). Here’s the link: