Popular media was rocked by the staggering news that famous actor and comedian Robin Williams had died. The shocking part of the story was he had taken his own life. People were stunned. A life that appeared to be a tour de force on the outside was clearly broken on the inside. Those who knew him well loved him more - grieving the loss of a special friendship. It was widely recognized that Williams had long-standing battles with drugs and depression, yet not many realised the depth of his hurt and vulnerability. What friend wouldn’t pay to turn back the clock, if they could, doing whatever was necessary to steer him back in the right direction. Robin Williams was a life worth saving.
The journey of life takes us through the shadow of death but most don’t give up the ghost without a fight. Robin Williams was battling serious issues, enough to tip things in a deathly direction, but what friend wouldn’t question his decision to call it a day? Who wouldn’t wish they had been there for him, long enough to encourage him to choose life by putting a little more weight on the other side of the scale?
I felt pain and sadness reading the headline. Then it struck me: what a bizarre world we live in! People are reaching out to those tempted to end their life. Phone lines, websites and special agencies are set-up for the sole purpose of talking people back down to earth. However, on a parallel track others are standing alongside the weak and vulnerable, offering to hold their hand and cheer them on while they jump. Euthanasia advocates will argue, your life isn’t worth saving unless you (or the doctors attending you) say so.
Arguments about suicide and euthanasia are emotive and complex but one thing stands out enough to get our immediate attention. Among those who choose to end their life, we believe there are lives worth saving. In a culture saturated in sentiment – you should do whatever your heart tells you – there is great danger in placing suicidal thoughts on the roller-coaster ride of our emotions. We need to anchor our attitude somewhere else. We need something or someone above and beyond us that we can appeal to. We believe a life is worth saving but we need to know the reason why.
Some choose to believe they have no reason to live, but some have reason to live for what they choose to believe. The Bible says life is a gift from God, it’s absolutely valuable and we should never take it into our own hands. Through the darkest days we can find strength for the journey. We can look to the God who created us, loves us and is willing to walk alongside us. A heavenly perspective does a lot of earthly good, and it reminds us the reason why a life is worth saving.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Author and speaker.