I generally blog about the things that are happening in my life and my feelings about the experiences I’m going through. This week I had an experience that has left me mystified. This past Monday I had a memorial service for a young man named Byron who took his own life. Two Mondays ago Bryon ended his life by shooting himself. The following day famous comedian Robin Williams, age 63, ended his life by hanging himself. The question that came to my mind was “why?” I can make some sense out of Robin Williams’ suicide as he had a history of depression, alcoholism and had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He probably felt he didn’t want people either laughing at him or feeling sorry for him with Parkinson’s. But one can live a long time and be very productive even with that disease, as illustrated by Michael J. Fox. But what was even more senseless to me was the death of this young man, Bryon. His firm paid for the memorial service cost because they genuinely cared for this young man. He was a graduate of the Naval Academy, the first from his nation (Micronesia).
How do I as a minister make sense of something so senseless? Well, most importantly I know that we are in a time of great spiritual conflict. Peter tells us in his first epistle, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversity the devil walks about like a roaming lion, seeking whom he may devout” (5:8, NKJV). The devil’s methods and means are the ways of death. His tools; drugs, alcohol, broken relationships, sexual immorality, gambling and many other things that he are uses to create a sense of shame, guilt and hopelessness. He then points out what a hopelessness situation we are now in. The challenge is for us to remain sober and vigilant and aware of the fact that the devil is constantly seeking to kill us. If we give him a foothold in our lives, he will do everything he can to destroy us or our testimony for Christ. This is why even true Christians are not safe from the threat of suicide. But we must never forget the invitation given by Jesus in the 11th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus was speaking to people who were laid low under the heavy burden of religious laws and traditions when He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light” (v. 28-30, NKJ). We can always come to Jesus and find that He is the one who can and will bear the burden of all our problems and failures. There is no need for hopelessness and we can meet the Savior on the path of life. Satan seeks to destroy and kill. Jesus seeks to heal and to give life.
In the case of Robin and Byron, the devil prevailed because he gave them such a sense of hopelessness that they couldn’t go on. But you and I must speak up that there is always hope if we will just call out to Jesus who promises never to leave us or forsake us. Job never got the answer to his questions about his horrible suffering. But what he did get was a greater vision of God and a new beginning with God. The same Redeemer whom Job said “I know that my redeemer lives”, is alive today and wants to meet us on the pathway of life, even in the midst of our brokenness and pain. Remembering once more the words of Peter’s first epistle where he writes, “casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (5:7 NKJ). These are the words of someone who really blew it in denying he even knew this Jesus but he discovered that God’s grace is greater than all our sin.
Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo