I was reading news stories today about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, two well-know, admired and financially well-to-do people, that became so very distraught they ended their lives by their own hand. My first thought was for their family and loved ones that God would comfort them. Then, I was overcome with the simple truth that money and success, though touted as the goal that will make a person happy and content, actually has nothing to do with happiness and contentment. Pondering that with the Lord in prayer, I came away with renewed realization that what actually brings joy, a sense of well-being and peace or contentment to a person’s life is HOPE. Without hope we are lost in place of darkness slaved to depression and despair even in the midst the most opulent of life’s circumstances.
No doubt in the darkest moments of the trials of life, even the most generally hopeful of us have entertained the thought that death would bring relief from the suffering, stress, pain and challenges. Why do some succumb to the darkness of those thoughts and end up miserable and bitter at best or kill themselves at worst while others are touched by a spark of saving hope and they endure
In my personal experience, the answer is the duo of Hope and Faith. (Romans 5:1-3, Hebrews 11:1) Under the seemingly magical influence of Hope, we human beings can stand in Faith and endure the most dire of circumstances; whether illness, poverty, war, loss of a loved one, abuse, betrayal, etc; and come through those situations a better person, often a more grateful person. Any kind of hope and faith in something or someone can help us endure for a time. However, I have found that to truly prosper, grow, and live a full life of joy, peace and contentment (no matter our circumstances) the Hope and Faith must be found ONE place. That place is in the loving arms of Christ Jesus as our Savior and our Lord. (Ephesians Chapter 3)
For any skeptics, yes, some Christians have given up and plummeted into dark places. I cannot possibly address the complex psyche or spiritual condition of every person in this short blog post, nor am I trained to analyze or counsel. But, I can share my testimony and that of people I know who right now are able to overcome tremendous stress, illness, mental challenges and serious life situations as they put their Faith and Hope in Christ Jesus. Our testimonies are that we would likely have tumbled into a gray place void of Hope, perhaps even the depth of dark suicide, without our Faith in Christ. With Jesus in our lives, we have and are even right now walking through very difficult things yet we can report that we have joy in our hearts. As well, there is a place of peace and rest when we pray and talk to Jesus and meditate on the Word of God (Bible).
Would Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and others who have given up on life still be with us if they had strong Faith and Hope in Christ Jesus? Even if they struggled with depression or perhaps an illness, it is very likely they would be. The Giver of Life, Jesus, who died on the Cross for us all would have lovingly given them the strength to hold on, if they would have asked Him and Believed. It breaks my heart that perhaps they never heard the Good News of the Hope and Healing we can have in Christ Jesus. It is even more heartbreaking and frightening to me that perhaps they heard and rejected the Hope-Giver.
So, I asked Father God what I was to do about this. After I prayed I felt led to write this post. My prayer in all this is four-fold. First, that those of us who are Believers, including me, would stop judging, condemning and shaming people and start sharing the love of God and the Hope we have in Christ instead. And second, that our God would teach us how to intercede for and encourage those people who are suffering in mind with depression or mental illness. It is vital that we step into that arena as the Lord God equips us and enables us to do so.
Third, that we (that I) would remember to pray for the well-to-do just as much as those who are down and out. In fact, folks who are wealthy may well need far more prayer than those who are poor. I have prayed for famous people of influence in the past like our Presidents, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bill Gates and Madonna but nonetheless, I must ask God’s forgiveness for never praying for Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade as I saw them on TV or read about them in a news article.
Lastly, my prayer is that, as a body of Believers, we would shake off cultural lies, realize money, power and fame is not the ultimate goal of life nor what it means to pursue the blessings of God. Yes, our Father in heaven would have us prosper in all ways, but that is not our ultimate goal. Our goal is to love Him with all our heart and mind, to love one another as Christ Jesus has loved us, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Luke 10:27 , John 13:34-35) Jesus said when we do that, all we need will be added unto us.
Our job as Believers and followers of Christ is to be brave, bold and courageous as we step out and bless others in our spheres of influence both face to face and through intercession. It is to walk daily in the ministry of reconciliation; which is to lovingly share in every way we can the message of HOPE found in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and in a personal relationship with Him as our Savior.
With love to all,