With Robin Williams’ recent death comes a wave of emotions: Sadness, regret and also reflection.
Robin didn’t die due to an accident. He intentionally took his own life.
In order to justify suicide, you have to reach a point where you’re willing to elevate your assessment of yourself above all others, including God’s.
To call it “selfishness” isn’t really accurate because it implies an immature preoccupation with yourself and that’s not the situation here. Rather, it’s a dark resolve to ignore every perspective on your self and your world apart from your own.
According to your Heavenly Father, you have value, you have hope and you have a future. As long as God continues to allow your heart to beat, you have a difference to make and therefore a reason to get up and get moving.
It’s more than a “perspective,” it’s Truth. But however obvious and significant that Truth may may be, it has to be accessed. And if a person’s disposition is such where they’re unwilling to subscribe to Something greater than themselves, then they limit their options to that which is human, which is often found wanting in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Depression is a Condition
Depression is a condition. In its most extreme iterations, you have things like Bipolar Disorder and other such maladies that require psychological and medical treatment. Left unchecked, it can lead to bizarre and impulsive behavior including suicide.
Despair and Depression are well represented in Scripture; even those versions that make dying look relatively attractive.
Job had lost his health, his children and virtually all of his material possessions. In Job 9:21, he says:
Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. (Job 9:21)
Psalm 88:3 has David saying:
I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. (Ps 88:3)
In Psalm 143, he says:
Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. (Ps 143:7)
On a couple of occasions in chapter 4 of the book that bears his name, Jonah declares that it would be better to die that have to continue enduring the anger and exasperation that was weighing on him.
In the Absence of Pharmaceuticals
I’ve no doubt that if any of these personalities were able to secure an appointment with a 21st century psychologist, they would walk out of his office with a prescription and a recommendation to schedule a follow up session. In the absence of pharmaceuticals, however, these men were obligated to reach for something more substantial – Truth.
The Truth is actually God Himself (see Jn 14:6) – a Fact and a Power so beyond the human experience that all adversity is instantly revealed as that which can be overcome. That doesn’t mean it’s either easy or quick, but it does mean that you can endure and you can prevail over what would otherwise ruin you. Not because you have happened upon a miracle drug or a compelling counselor, although God can work through those things. What makes the difference, especially in matters where the issue is how you see yourself, is the Truth upon which your perspective is based and not the strength of the medication you ingest.
These are not the thoughts or words you repeat to someone who is grieving. You mourn with those who mourn. But for sake of those who want to perceive this as an example of how their situation is destined to conclude because depression is serious and treatment is ultimately hit and miss, it’s imperative to realize you have other options besides those which are covered by insurance.
Talk to your Creator. Access the peace that passes understanding and the Strength that goes beyond anything you could muster up on your own. Life is meant to be lived and not merely endured. You will run into adversity. Even Paul got to to a point where he was willing to call it quits…
We do not want you to be uninformed,brothers and sisters,about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death… (2 Cor 1:8-9)
This is a man who has seen Christ after He rose again. He’s more familiar with the Truth that we’re talking about than many of us, yet he was at the end of his rope. What kept him from doing something rash?
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor 1:9)
And there it is. God provided the means and the perspective to get beyond what would otherwise be a deal breaker. What did that look like? What did Paul do? He probably just laid it out before his Heavenly Father and asked for whatever it was he needed to keep breathing. And I’m sure in light of Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul got more than he asked for because that’s the kind of God He is.
No one is immune to that which can take you to the edge. But neither is anyone restricted from reaching out and taking hold of the Assistance that keeps a person moving in the right direction. Let’s be sure to recognize depression as real, but let’s also be sure to recognize the Truth that applies and in that way preserve ourselves while at the same time being an example to others.