Check out the current issue of Consumers Reports magazine. The cover story says it all: "America is in Pain – and Being Killed by Painkillers." Prescription drugs have skyrocketed 300% in just 10 years! Sin abounds bringing STDs, aches, stress, back problems, migraines and joint maladies to multitudes that will not obey a loving and holy God.
Millions of people today feel depressed ("pressed down") but don't know why. Depression is not the root problem. The guilt people sense and try to dismiss is actually God convicting us and "pressing down "upon us that we might employ the privilege of confession and cleansing of conscience to find forgiveness and freedom in Him! Read Psalm 32 for the testimony of a liberated man sharing his beautiful redemptive story.
"He that keeps the law, happy is he" (Prv. 29:18). "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 'There is no peace", says my God, 'for the wicked' " (Is. 57:20). Two dramatic and relevant examples illustrate this point.
"Boyhood" is a movie currently in the theaters that is extolled by critics as a "Masterpiece!" It's 12 years in a boy's life recorded in real time. The story unfolds fornication, two divorces, debt, lying, physical and verbal abuse, drunkenness, drugs, profanity, destruction of property, exploitation of women, self-pity, out-of-wedlock birth, deceit, mockery of Christianity, thievery, dishonoring of parents, pornography and a closing scene featuring a woman sobbing in rehearsing her life and saying, "I just thought there'd be more!" The characters' lives apart from God could easily bring them to a place of suicide. Tragic.
Another film/documentary presently is, "The Dog," the real-life robber behind the "Dog Day Afternoon" movie that starred Al Pacino. The main character is John, a profanity-spewing "Catholic" who has "four wives" and two kids in his "liberated" homosexual lifestyle and lives for sex, sex, sex. Later his transsexual lover wants a sex change operation so John robs a bank, an accomplice is killed, ends up in prison, is raped while his trans-sexual friend outside becomes a prostitute, attempts suicide and dies of AIDS. John is eventually released from prison to stand out in the streets giving autographs while living with his sad, disillusioned mother until he dies of cancer in his 50s. Tragic too.
"The wages (inevitable paycheck) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). If people don't avail themselves of this gift, then the unfortunate paycheck comes, not always immediately but eventually. Multitudes of deceived people need to be helped in seeing that their problem of depression is self-induced and not something that mysteriously and arbitrarily comes upon folks like measles or the flu.
A man was desperate and depressed. He went to an old buddy who counseled him to go and talk with a psychiatrist. He did but it brought no relief and neither did the meds. So the friend advised him to invest in a therapist. He did but his money was running out and the attempts at coping didn't deliver. Finally his friend told him of a circus in a nearby town where there was a clown who was hilarious and made everybody laugh. The deflated man began to cry and when he looked up he said, "I know that won't work because, you see, I am that clown."
Entertainment Weekly magazine once proclaimed Robin Williams the "Funniest Man Alive." Maybe his long-standing battle with depression was not primarily from the sin factor but from something that unfortunately many don't or won't consider.
A few years ago after undergoing serious heart surgery, the experience left the enigmatic, energetic Robin Williams "feeling like a mortal for the first time in my life and I didn't like how that felt." Resorting to doing more sequels discouraged him and when his attempts at a TV show failed, it was a dark day. Plus paying off two wives was "ripping his heart out through the wallet." The onslaught of Parkinson's disease weighed heavily as it attacks mobility and persona. Someone in his inner circle told In Touch magazine, "His last words were, 'I just can't take it anymore – the pain is too much.'"
A respected Christian leader and movie critic, Ted Baehr, stated that Robin "accepted Jesus as his Savior in one of the recovery programs, but he was always searching and never quite finding." In an interview with Can Magazine he said that as he was going through rehab he "knew he was not alone and it gives you a very personal view of God."
Is Robin Williams in heaven or hell? Did he truly repent and put his trust in Jesus Christ alone as both his risen Savior and Lord, which is what the Bible teaches as essential for salvation (Rom.10:9)? What really happened and did he talk tenderly and remorsefully to God in those closing minutes as he tightened that belt around his neck to choke out his final breath?
Only in eternity will we know the answers to these questions. As Billy Graham once said, "When we get to heaven we will be surprised at who is there and we will also be surprised at who is not there."
In closing, let's capitalize in a redemptive way on this heartbreaking episode to engage the lost and unchurched in conversations proving that compassionate Christians DON'T avoid suicide-related questions. The tragedy provides a natural conversation-starter for divine appointments in our life. But look beneath any smiling veneer and projected image. "Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains "(Prv.14:13 NLT).
Farewell Robin Williams (1951-2014). We hope we'll see you again.