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You want to ask these people: “What is it that you feel is missing? How is it that a person can have everything and have nothing? How can a person have all the best of this world and yet want to end it all?” Jesus described it perfectly when he said: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25).
If you do a Google search for “celebrity suicides”, you will be overwhelmed. The suicides, and deaths from drug overdoses, include names like: Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, John Belushi and Chris Farley , to mention just a few. That’s not including the long list of celebrities like Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Moore who are in and out of rehab. Judy Garland, after one of her suicide attempts, said, “All I could see ahead was more confusion. I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I wanted to hurt myself and everyone who had hurt me.”
I often think that the fame, wealth and beauty that so many are searching for is a curse rather than a blessing. What must it be like to do anything to get to the top and when you arrive realize there is nothing there. What must it be like to discover that instead of satisfying you it is terrifying you and destroying you. Talent, beauty, wealth, fame — what more could you ask for? Obviously, something else.
We have a whole culture that is drowning in addictions of all kinds, trying to avoid life while at the same time desperately seeking it. What they are seeking is a fantasy life where everything is wonderful and you feel good all the time, but that life does not exist. What they are seeking is a life where everything revolves around them, but that life is a selfish vortex that sucks everything down with it. What they are seeking is an escape from problems, and real life is found in the midst of our problems — facing problems and dealing with them.
When I saw the news about Whitney Houston, I thought of another singer — my friend Jodi. I was in a singing group with Jodi that ministered to drug addicts in New York City. Jodi’s voice was like a songbird, sweet and clear. But her life has not been easy. She has been plagued by serious illnesses for much of her life. Still, she maintains a grateful and joyful spirit.
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