A FAREWELL TO ROBIN

The old King James reads: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). The news of Robin Williams’ suicide stunned the world Monday evening. And the off-the-chart Richter scale of public outpouring has been a measure of the global affection the 63-year-old comedian enjoyed. Talking heads like psychologist Dr. Phil and comedienne Joan Rivers gave voice to the painfully repeated question, ”But why?” Why would such a popular entertainer, so relatively young, so obviously successful (with career box office receipts of $5 billion), so apparently happy (with all the accoutrements of wealth, family and achievement, his well-publicized addictions notwithstanding)—why would Robin choose suicide as a final solution? His own words, scripted to be sure, were played and replayed in the somber reporting of his death. In a scene where he plays a guest on the show of a popular television psychologist, the host asks him to comment on teenage despair. Turning from the woman psychologist and looking into the camera, as if he were talking to a distraught viewer, he offers this now chilling advice: “And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.” How tragically permanent Robin Williams’ untimely death truly is. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” In Robin’s biography, the latter half of this ancient proverb trumped the first half. The broken spirit silenced the merry heart. Now that depression has become a water cooler conversation, we’re hearing numbers suggesting one in 10 of us in this country suffers from it, with 80% of depression cases going untreated. Now we’re being reminded of warning signs that could indicate the possibility of depression: feelings of sadness that don’t go away; a sense of guilt, worthlessness; loss of energy; feeling tired constantly; loss of interest in pleasurable activities; sleep changes; appetite changes; thoughts of suicide.  “If you have some of these classic symptoms of depression and the symptoms are severe and have lasted longer than a few weeks, you should seek help. The best place to start is with your doctor. . . . Depression is not a sign of weakness or a reason for shame—it is a serious illness. The positive news is that even in serious cases of clinical depression, treatment is usually very successful. And the earlier treatment is started, the more successful it is. So don’t wait.” (http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/symptoms.aspx) “Don’t wait”—that’s good counsel for you or for someone you care about—because “very successful” means the treatments really do work. And so does God. While His preferred method of treatment most often is through a counselor or physician, Jesus’ promise is still sure, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full—so come to Me, and I will give you rest” (see John 10:10, Matthew 11:28). Because the truth is, Christ is the only “permanent solution” to the phalanx of problems we all face. “Come to Me” is His assurance that even the darkest of our private struggles can be “temporary.” Dr. Phil, commenting on William’s death, told the interviewer, “I wish he had called me.” Don’t we all. So make the call. “Come to Me” means “Don’t wait.”

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