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Robin Williams was America’s favorite guy: funny, clever, honest, inspiring. We love his movies, we admire his art, and he makes us laugh—a winning combination.  Yet, the early reports of his death report possible suicide by asphyxiation. I hope that further investigations prove otherwise, but it looks as though one of the most loveable, successful, and influential men in America took his own life.

How can that be?

His death highlights some of the most tragic truths:

  • It’s possible to be universally loved and hate yourself.
  • It’s possible to possess limitless potential and talent but lose it all because of emotional pain.
  • It’s possible to gain the whole world and lose your soul. 

I don’t mean by that last statement that Robin Williams lost his soul to hell because of suicide. I don’t believe that suicide is an unforgiveable sin, I don’t believe that suicide sends people to hell, and I don’t venture to speak to the eternal location of his soul.

This is a man who had everything in the eyes of the world, yet was hurting so badly on the inside that he would desire to ultimately escape the pain.  He had a soul in desperate need of tender care, and for reasons we do not know, he lost the war within himself. This is man who deserves our utmost empathy and grace, not because of his fame, not because of his talent, but because like all of us, he was a human with a hurting heart. God knows there are millions more out there hurting in similar fashion.

As I watch the media sing his praises, I can’t help but wonder: what if we had done this while he was still living?  Would it have made a difference?  Why do we wait until someone’s death to document his or her influence?  Can we not celebrate the living while they are still with us?

In John 9, Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” Death always reminds us to let our momentary concerns shrink down to size and live while we still can.  Today, as we remember him, may we embrace someone else, tell them we’re glad they are here, tell them how they have touched us by sharing their art and their heart.  May we work to rescue people while we can, redeeming Robin’s death by realizing that it can, eventually, be too late.

Robin, we mourn your passing.  You touched us with your comic art, your enormous talent, and your courageous humanity.  We
grieve to know you were hurting and we hold onto hope for your eternal destiny.

*Photo Credit: Featureflash /