Yesterday I had a fairly deep conversation with a friend. We don’t often have deep talks but he started with this question, “If we believe that God knows the past, present, and future and we have free will, then why does choice matter when it has already been decided in God’s plan?” Take a second and read that again. We worked on refining the issues at hand (the whole thing could be the basis of a philosophy class). We talked about a person actively not making a choice. I said that we are all making choices, that choosing to abstain from a decision is a choice in itself. I said that we are all moving towards something, trying to fill a void in our souls left for reconnection with the creator.
This attempt to fill the void comes in many forms. I watch my oldest son, who turns six in six days, and can see the battle. He spans the gap between playing with his brother and beating up on him, listening to us and doing his own thing. He is working out his identity before our eyes. He is shaping his wants, needs, and emotions. He is starting to understand choice and consequences. He begs us for every single toy on television! This fatherhood thing is still a mystery to me.
As the nation processes the death of Robin Williams, the issue of suicide comes to the forefront. More information has come out about his struggles and time in rehab. Depression is a serious disease, I’ve dealt with it before, and without help it can be fatal. I can only imagine the conversation in his head Sunday night. How did it sound? The debate, the causes and effects of taking his own life? Or maybe it wasn’t even a question. Failure is such a powerful word and the weight is too much for some people.
In 1999 I was a junior in high school. I still remember the day Columbine happened. I remember watching the news at school horrified that two kids would commit such an act of violence. These young men had their own issues and anger and chose to take it out on others. We look at tragedies and death and question why. Much like my friend, we wonder about free will and the big picture.
Darkness provides an opportunity.
It can make the light of God shine brighter. It can ignite the fire of faith in the coldest of hearts. I believe God is moving in this world every day. I’ve spoken to people who have experienced the touch, the intersection of the trajectory of our lives with his divinity. Tragedy draws us closer on spiritual ground. We pull together as family and friends. We become aware of suffering.
Maybe, today, one person who read about Williams decided to walk into a hospital and get help for suicidal thoughts.
If we as believers can recognize that need, that void that demands fulfillment, we can see the open door. One time I was talking to a friend who is a counselor. He asked me what was my biggest fear. I thought about it and said “not being in control.” He replied that God meets us in our biggest fears and he was interested to see what would happen as I dealt with my fear of losing control.
He was right.
I’ve dealt with losing a job, gaining others, having children, starting a business, following my dreams, and struggling to make ends meet. I’ve looked in the mirror in praise and heartache. I’ve seen myself as a success, failure, and work in progress. The procedure isn’t over. God is still working me through my fears and I know he will carry me to the other side.
He will do the same for you.