When I heard the news of Robin Williams’ tragic death by suicide, I was shocked and grieved.
The reason I was shocked was because it was the unexpected end to his life. The reason I was grieved was because it didn’t have to be
It didn’t have to be.
When I hear of someone who has taken their own life, I get a picture of a person in a dark ocean bobbing up and down in the waves. Arms flailing. Gasping for breath. Head barely above water. Wishing someone was there to throw them a lifeline and rescue them but seeing nothing and no one.
Yet, right beside them is a life-preserver. It’s just what they need to be rescued but they don’t see it. They don’t see what is so close they can reach out, grab it and be saved. What they don’t see is this life-preserver called hope.
They don’t see hope that today will be better. They don’t see hope of a brighter future. Hope that this too shall pass. Hope that change is coming. Hope that it really will be okay. They take their own life because they have no hope. Maybe they had hope at one time… but they lost it. To have no hope is tragic.
Maybe it would help if we really understood what hope is and what hope is not.
Hope is not wishful thinking. Wishful thinking never did anything for anybody. Wishful thinking never changed anybody’s life. Wishful thinking is thought without action. Wishful thinking leaves you in the same place with nothing changed. Hope is not wishful thinking.
Hope is confident trust. But what makes hope so powerful is what we’re trusting in… rather Who we’re trusting in. Hope is confidently trusting in Jesus. Jesus is hope. Jesus is sure. Steadfast. Forever.
We can put our hope in Jesus because we can confidently trust in Jesus. We can trust what He says. We can trust who He is. We can trust the He loves us. We can trust that He has good things planned for our lives.
When we have no hope we feel lost. But we’re never lost. Jesus always know where we are and what’s going on in our lives. He’s always reaching out to us. Waiting for us to truly… truly… see Him.
Sadly, people commit suicide even when they know who Jesus is. So why do they do it? I think it’s because somewhere the connection has been lost that Jesus can be hope and help for them. Life gets too heavy. Hope seems too far away.
So what would I say to Robin Williams or anyone else contemplating suicide?
I would say…
“Please don’t give up. Jesus really does care. He really can help. He really is bigger than what you’re facing right now. God put you on this planet for a reason and you’re not finished here. There are still amazing things God has for you today and in the future.
There are still so many lives you are able to touch. Your life matters. Don’t let the devil rob you of the best that is yet to come. What you’re going through is overwhelming but there is a power that you can tap into through Jesus Christ that will cause you to overcome your overwhelmed state. DON’T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP!”
That’s what I would say. But I wouldn’t stop there.
My words have only so much power and carry only so much weight. However, the Word of God is very powerful. It is living. It can reach deep into the heart and touch places that no man or woman can touch. So I would tell them what God says.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11
1 Timothy 1:1 says that Jesus Christ is our hope.
Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ is in us and He’s the hope of glory.
1 John 4:4 says that greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.
Psalm 146:5 says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Jesus said in John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
The prayer of Ephesians 1:17-19 says, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know that hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Psalm 37:3-7 tells us to “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Romans 15:4 encourages, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
The psalmist in Psalm 43:5 asks, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Psaml 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick”. Hope is our lifeline! Hope keeps us going!
God gives us assurance in Isaiah 41:10 when He says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Be constant in prayer. Prayer is your connection to hope. Through prayer darkness begins to dissipate and hope begins to shine through. Through prayer you see that God is so much greater than your troubles. Through prayer hope swallows up hopelessness.
These promises are given to those who commit their lives to trusting in Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives. Maybe you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. But maybe you haven’t. If you woud like to… today is the best day to do that. Just pray this simple prayer.
“Jesus, I need You in my life. I’ve sinned and I ask you to forgive me. Come into my life and make me a brand new person. I commit the rest of my life to following your will for me. Thank you for saving me and thank you for bringing me out of darkness and into your wonderful Light. I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
That’s what I would say. That’s what I would say to Robin Williams or anyone else contemplating suicide or going through any struggle that seems more than they can stand.
You may be thinking, “But I said that.”
We may not get through to everyone but we will get through to someone.
So keep saying it. Keep praying it. Keep speaking the Word. Keep giving the life-giving Word to your family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers. God’s Word is more powerful than our own and can cut through the darkness that has enveloped their lives. Speak God’s Word.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us we should, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Give them the Answer. Our hope is in Jesus.
And hopefully, in confident trust, their eyes will be opened and they will connect God’s Word to their own life and find hope. Hopefully, the switch will flip and they will be able to see a bright future and an end to despair.
Because it doesn’t have to be. “Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost.” (John 19:10) Those who feel lost are exactly the people Jesus is extending His love to. Speak the Word. Give people hope.
I know this post is much longer than normal. But the problem is much greater than usual. We must help those who feel all hope is lost. We must speak the life-giving Word of God to them and pray that their eyes are opened to see God’s outstretched hand to them.
Please share this post with someone you know. Share it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media feeds. Email it. Print it out. Spread the word to everyone you know. Your sharing of this post could save someone’s life. How? Because it contains encouragement. Encouragement from God’s life-giving, life-saving Word.
We may not be able to save all. But we can save some. We will save some. Suicide is devastating. It’s painful. And it speaks of a person with no hope.
And it doesn’t have to be.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Photo by: Evan Leeson