Once again we have been reminded of the desperate need of the human heart to be happy. The death of Robin Williams is a particularly tragic event in our culture. There have been many others who have ended their own lives because of depression, addiction, or pain; but Williams was a man who seemed so widely accepted and loved. For forty years he made us laugh.
By now we should understand that there are those who seek to find their own happiness in the happiness of others. The comics among us have so often been tragic characters. Perhaps they think that if they can make us laugh, they will find joy for themselves. I won’t pretend to know Robin Williams or understand his demons, but I know that seeking health by making others laugh is a losing proposition.
I write about some negative things, particularly narcissism and legalism. Both are attempts to find personal health by controlling or manipulating the feelings of others. Both fail to satisfy the needs of the heart. The narcissist, like the comic, can make those around him laugh, and the legalist can give sacrificially; but neither will find joy or freedom or peace from their efforts. The darkness within is not overcome by their gifts.
There is a need for us to be accepted and loved for who we are, rather than for what we do. There is nothing we can do or produce to fill this need. That love and acceptance must come from the free choice of another, someone who knows the truth of our hearts and still chooses to love us. Many have found that the love of the people around them, no matter how sincere, is still not enough. I believe there is a core need for the love of God in our hearts.
It is a particular offense to the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it about sin and wrath and measuring up. The real message of the gospel is exactly what the human heart needs—love. Instead of telling people that they have sinned and must find the way to being accepted, we must tell them that they have sinned and God loves them. We do not bring a message of rejection! The gospel is a message of love and acceptance.
You have sinned and God loves you. You cannot save yourself, but God—in Jesus—will save you. You are broken and hurting and Jesus offers health and peace. The darkness pulls you to addictions and despair; Jesus calls you to eternal love and freedom.
In your own dark days, remember the love of One who truly knows you. He knows your doubts and fears and compromises and He finds great joy in knowing you. No matter how bleak or depressing your life becomes, you can never fall further than His arms of love.
When a friend or family member is going through the dark days, love them and tell them of this greater love. Tell them that Jesus loves them. Whatever they have done, whatever thoughts have gone through their mind and heart, Jesus loves them. He is quick to forgive, powerful enough to heal, and steadfast in His love.
The message of grace is that love is already there for you. You don’t have to earn it or deserve it or even seek it. The tiniest glimmer of faith is enough to begin welcoming and receiving that amazing love. Just the desire, the willingness to take what is offered, is enough—and that’s already in you. That longing finds its fulfillment in Jesus, the love of God.
The lie says that if you can make enough others happy, you will find happiness. Parents look to find their happiness in the happiness of their children. Givers look to the happiness of those who receive. Workers look to those who are served. And then there are those who take a broken route, the narcissists who manipulate the feelings of others to create their own peace or the legalists who seem to seek to destroy the happiness of others to make themselves feel better about their brokenness. But it doesn’t work. None of it works. We cannot take our happiness from others.
My prayer for all of us is that we would no longer seek to find our happiness in the looks or lives of those around us; but that we would find our joy in Jesus. May that always be the place and beginning of our health.