This week’s sorrowful news of Robin Williams’ lonely death has left much of America reeling. He was iconic for his skill in tackling tough issues in a humorous way through his famous films. For many people, Robin Williams had become a friend because his movies seemed to show that he was able to relate to their struggles. For others, Robin Williams and his movies were intertwined with favorite family memories. His loss symbolized the beloved past slipping even farther away.
What is it about the celebrity life that seems to so frequently bring its populace to such an abrupt end? I don’t think that a single year goes by without at least one star committing suicide. I remember how shocked I was when it was Heath Ledger. In their movies they are so alive and so filled with conviction. It is easy to forget that they are not the characters they play; perhaps they forget too. Over and over again we hear of the rich and famous being admitted to rehab, getting married and divorced and remarried for the nth time, shoplifting, drinking while driving, or ending their lives. Yet our culture continues to be obsessed with them, and our obsession only fuels the greedy fire. We want to do what they do, wear what they wear, eat and drink what they eat and drink, accessorize with their accessories, perhaps even work where are favorite film characters work. Do we believe we can be celebrities and escape the emptiness?
And as we remain captivated with stardom, butchery advances:
At this very moment hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian Christians and minority groups are fleeing for their lives from a barbarian army. The ISIS soldiers are raping and murdering women, beheading children, and crucifying men – all in the name of Islam.
In Israel, children and the elderly are used as human shields by Hamas so that the Israelis can be blamed for targeting civilians in their military strikes.
Pastor Sayeed is still being held prisoner in Iran simply because of his Christian faith.
The Nigerian school girls, kidnapped by Islamic extremists several months ago, have yet to be rescued.
This list of tragic affairs could go on and on, but the few things that I did list are quite overwhelming in and of themselves. I often sit and ponder what I can do about any of them. I ‘Like’ sentiments of outrage on Facebook. I ‘Share’ informative articles on my ‘Wall.’ I pray. I blog. But I still feel like I’m in the shallows of life. My world can still be turned upside down if I can’t figure out what to wear to church or I’m not able to get my laundry done on Monday. Traffic frustrates me; I get angry if I stub my toe. I fret if someone ‘Unfriends’ me. That’s the extent of my suffering.
I don’t think suffering makes us more noble or more valuable. We all struggle with our human emptiness and are ever seeking to fill the empty spaces in our hearts, and suffering often reveals the depth of our lacking. The answer is Jesus. As we determine to follow Him, He will show us where our focus needs to be. His convictions become ours and His passion will fuel our sacrifice. What He hates, so will we. Gradually we relinquish our desire for stardom, trade snorkel gear for an oxygen tank, and dive into the depths of faith with our Maker. Who knows where we’ll go or what we’ll discover. We may end up serving refugees in Iraq or simply boycotting Target. What matters is our obedience. Dive in the shallows no longer.