Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Light of a Tragedy

     With news on Monday of Robin Williams apparent suicide, the media has been swarming all over this story.  It is a tragedy that anyone should feel their life so hopeless that they decide to end it, and often a death like this leaves more questions than answers.  No one knows what goes on in someone's mind except that person and God.  Furthermore, we do not know if Robin Williams put faith in Christ as His Savior.  Certainly our prayers go out to his family in this time of grief and shock.  Yet there are some important take aways from this sad event.
      First and foremost, the church as a whole and Christians individually need to be aware of depression.  The signs and symptoms can be easily identified.  Several days ago, I wrote about my own struggle with this illness and the help that is available out there in the form of counseling,
medication and support.  We need to watch out for those who are bereaved or who have been through some traumatic situation so that we can help them through their time of need.  If we see signs of depression, we should offer support and above all, pray for that person.
      Secondly, if we find ourselves afflicted with depression, we need to be able to ask for help.  There is no shame in admitting mental illness of any sort.  Our society has stigmatized this to the point that people are fearful of being labeled.  However, depression is no less an illness than diabetes and like diabetes, it is treatable.  We do no favors to others or ourselves, if we try to cover up our pain.  Admitting our need, calling out to God and seeking help does lead to finding the answers rather than pretending it does not exist.
     Finally, and most importantly, the death of this creative actor points to a crucial question that all need to consider.  Do we know that if we died tonight and stood before God that He would let us into His heaven?  On what basis would He do so?  On good works?  On our merit?  According to the Bible, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) so my merits will not get me into heaven for I have none.  Then, when it comes to good works, Isaiah 64:6 tells me:  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."  This verse makes it clear that in God's eyes, all my good deeds are like filthy rags; therefore my good works will not earn me heaven. On what, then, can we turn that will open the gates of eternal life in God's presence for us when we die?  Jesus told us clearly, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).  Jesus Christ is the only means by which we can be delivered from the bondage of sin.  His sinless life, His position as the Son of God, His perfect sacrifice on the cross in our place alone satisfies the justice of our holy God.  When God calls us to Christ, and we repent of our sins and believe on Jesus Christ, we are delivered from not only sin but eternal Hell which was prepared for Satan and the demons.
     There are no second chances after death as some believe.  Neither is there any reincarnation into another body.  The Bible clearly tells us in Hebrews 9:27:  "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..."  We have one opportunity in this life to receive the gift of salvation which God offers.  There are only two destinations after this life.  For believers, they will go to be with the Lord and live in His presence forever.  Those who reject the claims of Christ will experience eternal Hell.  This is why it is so important for us to share the Gospel message with friends and family.
     On numerous occasions, I have heard people speak that "so and so" is now resting in peace and is an angel in heaven.  However, we must ask ourselves on what basis do they make that claim?  Do they know for certain that this person made a profession of faith in Christ
?  The world assumes that no one will ever experience eternal punishment, but the Bible tells us otherwise.  This is why it is critical that we take every opportunity to share the grace of God with others and come alongside them when they are hurting.  God has the answers for the pain in life.  It cannot be found in drugs, alcohol or some other area.  What we all need is to fill the empty part of our lives with the love of God.  He, alone, can sustain us, keep us, heal us, and deliver us from the demon of depression.
     I cannot speak for Robin Williams as to his eternal destination.  We can only pray for his family, and recognize our need to help those who struggle as he did.  We also need to make it our goal as Christians to point to Jesus Christ as the only One who can help us find meaning in our lives.  May we be found faithful in this task.  Selah!

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