Here’s something that you can count on in life. Tragedy.
Here’s something else that you can count on. Someone saying or writing something stupid after that tragedy.
I found out about the death of Robin Williams on Monday night. My wife told me from the other room. She said that it was all over the Internet. I told her that I had the sudden urge to watch Good Will Hunting. She said that some of my other friends were saying the same thing on Facebook.
It wasn’t long before other things were being said on Facebook. That’s the way it always works. Whenever a celebrity dies, we can count on someone being there to make us feel guilty for being sad. Those reminders usually come about 7.221 seconds after the tragedy itself goes public. And they’re usually said by the same people who remind us of how many people starved to death around the globe while we were watching the Super Bowl. But in this case, I didn’t hear the reminders until the following morning.
They go a little something like this.
Why is everyone upset about Robin Williams when so many Christians are being persecuted in China?
You posted a Robin Williams clip from YouTube but did you do anything about Mike Brown?
And on and on and on. And on some more.
Where does it all end? Should we condemn a grieving father for crying at his daughter’s funeral because there were so many more deaths in other parts of the world that day?
Should we only respond with grief to the really horrific events and with indifference to the sort of horrific events?
I get it. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture. It’s a culture where the famous seem larger than life and many of the regular folks tend to worship them. And not everything we know about those celebrities is real. Some of them don’t really look the way they do in movies. Others aren’t nearly as nice as they seem on TV.
I get it.
But while celebrities have been known to have fake body parts and fake personalities, they have very real problems. Robin Williams is a reminder of that. In spite of all of his success, he suffered. And he left behind family and friends who are now suffering in his absence. That’s one of the few common links between celebrities and the rest of us. We all suffer.
The alleviation of that suffering is never found in an angry, guilt-inducing tweet about all of the suffering people in the world that we’re forgetting about. As Christians, we know that the only real hope for a suffering world is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
And yes, there is a time to talk about that hope.
But there’s also a time to just be quiet. A time to say nothing. A time to weep with those who weep.
Remember that time when that atheist drove by a church sign that said, “God wants full custody. Not just weekend visits” and dropped everything to repent of his sins, right there in the middle of the road?
Neither do I.
It never happens.
And posting our guilt-inducing tweets about starving children around the world every time people have their attention on some other tragedy is just as productive as those church signs that we all drive by.
So whenever that guy dies who was on that show that you’ve never heard of, try not to remind us all of how rotten we are for feeling a little down about it.
Tragedies are going to happen. Until Jesus comes back, there’s nothing we can do to avoid that.
But there’s plenty we can do to avoid saying something stupid after those tragedies.
We would do well, many times, to simply remain silent.
But if we must make a noise about a particular situation, perhaps we could just weep with those who weep.