With the surprising reported suicide of Robin Williams, I could not help but wonder what could possibly drive a "successful" person to take such a drastic action. To all outward appearances, he supposedly had it all. Fame, fortune, friends, family, health, and a legacy built on a once-in-a-generation talent and a kindness and gentleness that impressed even his harshest critics. According to all who knew him in passing, he was a gentle and funny man who took time to rub elbows with the hoi polloi. But to those who knew him intimately, he was a man struggling with issues of life that ultimately affect and challenge each one of us. As Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sang: "Now if there is a smile on my face, it's only there to fool the public, but when it comes down to fooling you, now honey that's quite a different subject." Indeed it is.
Proverbs 14:13 says that laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. It seems that this proverb was true for Robin Williams. It is unfortunate that a man who made the whole world laugh at his sporadic and outlandish comedy routines and silly movies could not find joy and peace in his own heart during the course of his famous lifetime. Awards, applause, and fame never sustain our personal value over time for as they soon vanish, they push us to strive harder to attain or surpass them again or leave us embittered and unfulfilled. With each passing accomplishment or failure, a new sense of urgency or hopelessness may grip us.
What drove Robin Williams to take such a drastic and horrible action may never be known, but his life and death can be used to learn a very important lesson. That lesson is that a man's life and value does not consist in the abundance of things that he accumulates or possesses but rather is measured and valued by his relationship toward God.
In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus says, "And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive.' And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
I don't know what kind of relationship Robin Williams had with God or even if he had one. I don't know about his relationship with his family, friends, or neighbors. I don't know his habits, good or bad, or what kind of trouble haunted him. But one thing I do know is this - Jesus said, "Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God and believe also in me!" Jesus can give us peace when the storms of life hit and can comfort our souls regardless of our outward circumstances. He can heal and restore that which has been destroyed or ruined and he can resurrect that which is dead, buried, and forgotten!
My prayer is that Robin Williams' family, friends, and admirers will learn the lessons that Robin probably did not. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any one of us. May we see there is more to life than worldly possessions and fame and that these do not make one truly rich. May we understand that a person may be suffering terribly on the inside when outwardly they present a different picture, and may we also be comforted during this difficult and trying time with the grace and peace that only comes through knowing Jesus Christ.
Stay Holy, My Friends!