Only 63 years of age. Physically healthy. Three children. A loving wife. Adoring fans. All the money, fame, awards this world could possibly offer.
But he didn't have the hope it takes to make it through one more day.
So many have asked, "Why didn't someone help him?!" "Why didn't he reach out or let someone know how depressed he was?!"
As I listened to one news commentator, she made a statement that is haunting me. "We find it distasteful to touch the scars life has given others."
Being a pastor puts me in a position of "touching life-scars" all the time. I rejoice with those who rejoice. (Baby dedications, graduations, weddings.) But I also weep with those who weep. (Loss, illnesses, deaths.)
I've grieved along with loved ones left behind after the suicide of a family member. I've listened as they wrestle with the same questions. All starting with "Why..." All ending with no conclusive answer.
In the minds of some people, the haunting statement I heard is true. We live in a world that worships perfection. Some live with expectations that nothing bad should/will ever happen to them. Sorrow is for that family down the street - not us.
When painful things occur, these people choose to look the other way. They can't risk coming close enough to touch the life-scars of someone else. That sorrow may rub off on them.
But this is a broken world.
It wasn't made that way. God did create a perfect world. The first man and woman gave darkness an open invitation. And life-scars have been forming ever since.
Years later, Christ came on the scene. His mission? "To bring life and make it an abundant life...."
In order to provide this abundant life, Jesus became scarred. He was beaten then nailed to a cross. All this pain was for the purpose of providing life for us.
After His resurrection, one of His own disciples questioned the validity of Christ's proposal.
That's when Jesus looked lovingly at Thomas and said simply, "Touch the scars for yourself. Here, put your hand into this wound in my side. I endured this so you would know that I understand pain. I have conquered the life-scars this broken world gives. I have come so you may have abundant life!"
While in Italy, I spoke with a young man named Mossimo. We were inviting people lounging in the piazza to join us for an informal church service later. Mossimo quickly made clear that he did not believe in God.
I told him that was not a problem. God still believes in him!
We talked for several minutes. At one point, the young university student said he admires people who feel passionately about anything. Especially about matters of faith.
That's when I asked Mossimo if I could pray for him. He readily agreed and bowed his head.
Using simple, un-churchy terms I asked that God would show Mossimo how much He loves him. I asked that in his search for truth, Mossimo would find the life and truth that only Christ can provide.
I gave the young man a hearty hand-shake and we were both startled to see tears in the eyes of one another. We smiled. I promised to continue praying for him. He thanked me. We moved on.
There are two thoughts I'd like to leave with you:
- There are "Robins" and "Mossimos" all around us who need hope. Scripture encourages those of us who believe to have an answer ready when people ask about the hope and life in us. While the world is asking, "Why?" prepare yourself to explain there is One who understands our pain. One who isn't afraid of life-scars. One who was Scarred for LIFE.
- If you still find yourself with more questions about life than answers, locate a Bible and read the book of John.