The suicide of Robin Williams has made headlines around the world this week. Revelations of his battle with depression, which led to his manner of death, has been a shock to many. As a result, mental illness has been given a fresh highlight.
Depression is a serious issue that affects so many around us. I have often found, that those who laugh the most, are often the ones who hide the most inner pain. As Christians, it’s a natural question, in regard to this subject, to ask what Jesus would do, to help a person suffering the silent plague of despondency.
Therefore, let’s look at how He dealt with the hurting around Him. There’s the example of the woman caught in adultery. The culture of the time was to stone her to death. The crowds were focusing solely on her outward act of immorality. What did Jesus do? He looked beyond the outward action, and saw into her heart. There he found someone who was lost. Jesus offered this woman love and hope.
There’s also the example of the crowds of people, more than 5000, who were tired and hungry. The task to be fed was an impossibility; that is, until Jesus took over. He asked for a boy’s lunch. Then, taking just a little bit of bread and a few fish, Jesus fed all the 5000 and had 12 baskets of food left over. The crowds looked at the outward circumstance and saw impossibility. Jesus looked beyond to His Father; there He found everything He needed to accomplish the task at hand. He gave the people love and hope.
What about the woman who had dealt with a hemorrhage of blood for years? How awkward that must have been for her. How weak, physically and emotionally, she must have been on a daily basis. She was just one person in a crowd. To those walking with Jesus, this woman would not have been anyone special to notice; but Jesus stopped to look at her. She had touched the hem of His garment; Jesus noticed, and He stopped. The crowds must have wondered why Jesus was taking time with this woman. Why, He had other important things to be doing. Jesus, however, looked beyond His schedule of the day, and He took time to reach out and touch this woman. He gave her love and hope.
If you and I are to live like Jesus; if we are to imitate Him, then we must also look beyond the outward appearance, and zero in on the heart of the matter. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His own wisdom and insight. Ask Him to make you aware of others around you. Ask Him to use you to give someone love and hope.
Do you know someone, and you sense they may be hurting inside, but you’re not sure? I encourage you, don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “they’re probably okay.” Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “if I’m wrong, they’ll think I’m really stupid.” I encourage you, go with your gut feeling. If you’re wrong, the person will simply know that you are a person who cares. If you are right — well — you might just save someone’s life. Who knows, your kind words today, could be the life raft, that saves someone sinking in an ocean of despair.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice those around you. You don’t have to give someone all of your time. Jesus didn’t do that, Himself. What exactly did Jesus do? Everywhere He went, He was looking for opportunities to seize, in order to make a difference in someone’s life. Then, very often, He moved on to the next one. Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, that you’re busy, you don’t have time for someone you think is hurting today. Even a smile, or a card arriving in a mailbox, can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits.
If you’re the one who is swimming in a sea of despair today, and you have told yourself that no one notices, or even cares, I encourage you — don’t listen to that lie of Satan. He loves for you to be in the doldrums, and He wants you to stay there. Focus on the fact that Jesus loves you passionately. He is an expert at offering hope. Sometimes He touches you through someone around you. Sometimes, it’s just you and Him, and He whispers His words of love into your troubled soul. Call out to Him — and don’t forget to listen.
Jesus, quite simply, loves to give lasting love and hope to the hurting. Sometimes, He uses you and me to be His words to soothe, and His arms to hug. Let’s always be ready to see with Jesus eyes, looking beyond the outward appearance, and into the heart of the matter.
Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35