Robin Williams. Whitney Houston. Michael Jackson. Cory Monteith. All these entertainers had one thing in common: extraordinary God-given talent. As a result (at least in part…) of that talent, they achieved everything our culture says should lead to permanent happiness and fulfillment. They were fabulously wealthy. They had throngs of adoring fans. They earned the highest honors possible in their industries. They were hugely admired by their peers. Our culture says they had it made. So what happened – or, more importantly, what didn’t happen – that ended their lives so early?
- Williams, the Academy-Award winning actor (for 1997’s Good Will Hunting) and an incredible comedian, died of a suicide-related asphyxiation at age 63.
- Monteith was one of the stars of Glee, a popular TV show in North America. He grew up with substance abuse problems and that didn’t change when Glee transformed him into an award-winning celebrity. He died in 2013 from an overdose of drugs and alcohol.
- Jackson, whose phenomenal singing career was overshadowed by his bizarre lifestyle and allegations of child sexual abuse, died of accidental drug overdose (though his doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter) in 2009. He was 50.
- Houston, 48, who sold more than 170 million albums and collected 415 career awards, was found dead in her hotel room in 2012. She had a history of erratic behavior and cocaine abuse.
Sadly, we can add more names onto this list of icons who had drug and/or alcohol problems and died early: singers Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Jim Morrison, plus Nirvana founder Kurt Cobain (who committed suicide) and Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Where was the fulfillment promised by our culture? These people should have been much, much happier than you and me. Their tragic deaths make a clear and consistent case for that promise being an empty lie. Their wealth didn’t satisfy, their awards apparently brought only temporary happiness, and there was no fulfillment to be had in their fans or peers. So what (or who) CAN bring real, lasting satisfaction and fulfillment? Could it be…God? Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, certainly thought so. One of his most famous quotes says, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Why is this possible? Because a life-changing relationship with God, through His son, doesn’t depend on anything our culture has to offer. Rich or poor, famous or obscure – these things mean nothing to God. In fact, a relationship with God doesn’t depend on anything in our resumes. It depends on Him. If you give the Bible any credibility, consider these three words from a section simply called ‘1 John’: “God is love”. That fact explains why He sent His son to die for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we haven’t done. He loves us and wants to wipe the slate clean of what serious Christians call “sins” so there is nothing blocking the way to a satisfying, fulfilling, and eternal relationship with us. All we have to do is believe this and claim Jesus as our savior. Does this make sense? Agree or not, post a comment below and let’s start a conversation.