Two celebrity suicides just days apart have many rethinking wealth and fame as an antidote to despair.
Two well-known church leaders are thinking about that too and passing on their insights from scripture.
Pastor Greg Laurie told a packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday evening in today’s culture people think they can be happy only if they get rich and famous. But, he added, the “bottom line” is that “fame and wealth, possessions, all the things this world has to offer…will not make you happy.”
In one week alone, he said, two celebrities—television personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion icon Kate Spade—took their own lives. Last year, 45,000 Americans took their lives, he added.
“I’m not here tonight to talk to you about religion. I’m here to talk to you about a relationship, a friendship, with God,” Pastor Laurie told the crowd.
Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, and founder of the Harvest America stadium events, knows about the emptiness of pursuing what the culture deems satisfying. He told of his difficult childhood, and how he got into drugs and alcohol. “I was going downhill fast…I was too cynical, too hard…but Christ changed my life one day. I didn’t plan on it, but it happened,” he said.
“There is someone who loves you and someone who values you. And He’s called Jesus Christ,” he stated, and quoted one of his favorite verses in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
“Do you have hope tonight?” the California pastor asked the audience. He further asked if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is “living inside of you right now”? If He is, Laurie stressed, then you’d know for certain.
Max Lucado, author and pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, is also trying to find an answer to the suicides.
In an op ed piece for Foxnews.com, Lucado writes that in addition to the high profile deaths of Spade and Bourdain, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2016 alone. Between 1999 and 2016 the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by nearly 30 percent.
He says “if a disease saw a spike like we’ve seen with suicides, we would deem it an epidemic.”
The verse that he turns to for insight into the “epidemic” is Psalm 30:5.
“Suicide victims battled life’s rawest contests. They often faced a mental illness or physical illnesses and felt the peril of mental fatigue. What you and I take for granted, they coveted. Optimism. Hope. Confidence that all would be well—that they would be well.
“Their clouds had no silver linings. Their storms had no rainbows.
“If that describes the way you feel, can I urge you to consider one of the great promises of the Bible? The promise begins with this phrase: “Weeping may last through the night” (Ps. 30:5).
“Of course, you knew that much. You didn’t need to read the verse to know its truth. Weeping can last through the night. Weeping may last through the night, and the next night and the next.
“This is not news to you.
“But this may be: “Joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Despair will not rule the day. Sorrow will not last forever. The clouds may eclipse the sun, but they cannot eliminate it. Night might prolong the dawn, but it cannot defeat it. Morning comes. Not as quickly as we want. Not as dramatically as we desire. But morning comes, and, with it, comes joy. Joy comes.
“Joy comes because God comes.”
And he adds this personal note to those struggling in life, asking “And you? You’ll be tempted to give up. Please don’t. Open your Bible. Meditate on Scripture. Sing hymns. Talk to someone about your hurt. Seek help. Place yourself in a position to be found by hope. Weeping comes. But so does joy.”