Lessons Through Robin Williams

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


Does God Care That I’m Hurting?

No one on earth escapes hard times.  Perhaps difficult situations cause us to feel stressed, frustrated, rejected, angry, trapped — or — perhaps nothing has happened at all.  Perhaps life is going well for us, and yet, feelings of despair and loneliness come upon us.  We have the unexplainable “blues.”   When we get the blues (and we all do at times) we might question, “Does God really care about how I’m feeling?”  In answer to that, let me share this beautiful verse in Psalm 34:18,  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

It’s easy, when we are feeling low, to forget that God cares.  In fact, we can quickly turn our thoughts away from God, in order to concentrate more fully on our misery, but one thing is for certain — misery begets misery.  We can become our own worst enemy when we are dealing with any level of depression.  When misery attacks, the one thing we need to do, call upon our Father, becomes a last resort.  Misery grows, and feelings of rejection from God and friends, takes on a false realism in the recesses of our mind.  The “blues” likes to feed on misery.  Therefore, the deeper we go into misery, the fatter becomes the blues.  Before we know it, we’re rolling in melancholy and feelings of desolation.  We have one big, fat problem, and we don’t know how to lose it.

I encourage each of us, when misery begins feeding on our inner turmoil — begin to starve it!  How do we do that?  It’s a training of our minds and it takes practice, but like anything that is practiced, we become skilled.  In this case, we become adept in knowing how to better choke the blues away.  Take a look at instructions given to us in Philippians 4:8, “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”   This is such an important instruction that, when adhered to, helps to bring our thoughts out of the doldrums, and back into joyful thinking.

I can share from personal experience — when I feel down and choose to think on “what is true,” despondency begins to lift.  If, on the other hand, I continue to think on the misery itself, then despondency grows.  We can feed it or starve it.  Never forget, you are not alone even when you feel you are; your Father in heaven “is close to the brokenhearted and ready to rescue those whose spirits are crushed.”   Let us take command of our minds.  Be the one who takes the reigns of your own depressing thoughts that want to run wildly in the wrong direction.  Lead your horse of despair to quiet waters and there reflect on “what is true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely and admirable.”  Think on Jesus and His love for you.  Think of His heart’s desire to rescue you.  Then, envision your rescue.  Imagine crawling into your heavenly Father’s lap, and rest there.  Remind yourself of His love.   Recall the times He has shown His care for you.  Practice thinking on those things, and watch unexplained despondency melt away into peace.