Well, the hoopla has died down and discussions have slowed about the death of one of America’s most talented actors and comedians, Robin Williams. Williams, at only sixty-three years old took his own life by hanging. Here is my version of a funeral sermon for Mr. Williams.
FUNERAL FOR A SUICIDE
Psalm 130:1-2; Psalm 91:1-4; Hebrews 4:14-16; Psalm 23:1-6
I want to begin with a couple of things about suicide, the method used by Robin Williams to end his life
Regardless of what some may think, there’s a lot of things worse than death. Lot’s of people have felt they were ready to go. Some were in a nursing home. Some were very sick. Some had emotional problems that hurt as much as the physical pain of a terrible disease. I’ve looked at their situation and said I don’t blame them for feeling the way they do.
I thought about Paul. He said, “For me to die is gain.” His situation was not good. Death was his personal preference. But he pushed aside his personal preference out of consideration for others.
I don’t recommend taking one’s own life. But I’ve known several GOOD people who did that. Were they out of their mind? I don’t think so. Were they confused or depressed at the moment? Perhaps.
My first touch with suicide was a an uncle who took his own life. He was very sick. He had no quality of life. He worried about what his illness was doing to his family. I don’t know. But I think his love for others drove him to do what he did. The second was a step-father (yes, my mother was married more than twice). I think the problem there was more mental illness than anything else.
Some people have THE MISTAKEN IDEA that a person won’t go to heaven, if they take their own life. Notice, that I said the mistaken idea. Paul said, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Unbelief is the only unforgivable sin. How a Christian dies doesn’t cancel that Christian’s confession of faith in Christ. It doesn’t separate that Christian from the love of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Unbelief is the only sin that the blood of Jesus can’t cleanse; The only sin that the heart of God can’t forgive. Robin Williams eternity didn’t hinge on this one single act. His faith, and all of the good things he did, weren’t wiped out by one mistake. His eternity depends on whether or not he had truly accepted Christ’s work on the cross for his salvation. So, what advice can I give you?
Look to God for strength.
If you try to handle this without God, you’ll leave out your greatest and most important source of help. Be like the Psalmist who said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God and My Strength in whom I will trust.”
I want us to consider something Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
“I am.” That’s the name of God. He told Moses, “I am that I am.” “I am” means God exists. God is real. “I am” is a name that Jesus used dozens of times. But it’s more than something He called Himself. Because after He said “I am,” He raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus also said, “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
“He that believeth in me.”
Did Robin Williams believe in Jesus? If he did, he will be raised from the dead. “Though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
Jesus made no exceptions. He placed no conditions on how we die. God didn’t approve of the way he died. But that didn’t cancel out Robin Williams security if he was a believer. It didn’t cancel out his good charity works; his works with servicemen and women; The promises God made to everyone. God’s won’t go back on those promises. God’s promises to us don’t depend upon our good works. They depend upon God’s goodness, grace, mercy, righteousness and honesty.
So trust God. And expect Him to help you.
Look to your family for strength.
Love each other. Hug each other. Cry on each others shoulders. Share the strength YOU have with others in your family. John said, “let us love one another: For love is of God; And every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; For God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (I Jn. 4:7- 11).
Life is short. Love each other. If you don’t, you’re not doing the will of God.
Look to your friends for strength.
Many people want to help you. Many have sent flowers; Many have come to express sympathy and understanding. Let your Church help you. We love you. We’re praying for you. That’s one of the reasons why the Church is here. And our hearts go out to you.
Be thankful for the 63 years that Robin Williams lived.
Lots of people don’t live that long. Some who do are sick. Some can’t get out and go. Some can’t hold a job. Robin Williams could. Be thankful for his life. Several of his friends have said what a nice guy Robin Williams was. He was good to people. Be thankful for that. Be thankful for that.
We didn’t want to give Robin Williams up, but understand that losing him is not all bad.
The Bible teaches that good can come from it. Paul said, “It’s appointed unto man once to die.” Solomon said, “There’s a time to be born and a time to die.” Both men were saying that death is a part of God’s plan. We know that. So we need to make the most of our lives; To get our priorities straight. If Robin Williams death can cause just one person to live better, Just one person to draw closer to God, Just one person to accept Jesus Christ, Then, his death wasn’t in vain.
Abe Vanderpoi asked a pastor’s wife, “What put you in that wheelchair?” She replied, “I had cancer in my leg. And the doctors had to take it to save my life.” Losing her leg was awful. But losing her leg saved her life.
Losing Robin Williams was awful. But if losing Robin Williams causes just one person to live better, good has come from it. Paul said, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
When President Kennedy was assassinated, Governor John Connally and his wife were riding in the front of the limousine. Governor Connally said, “We could have died that day. As far as my wife and I are concerned, it brought into sharper focus what’s really important in life.” President Kennedy’s death was a bad thing. But good came from it. It made the Connallys understand the importance of life; The importance of family; The importance of loving each other; The importance of salvation; The importance of life beyond the grave.
Let Robin Williams death cause you to pull together.
Families get separated; Torn apart. The death of a loved one reminds us that we won’t always be together. We need to make life better for each other while we can. Today, someone might say, “Robin Williams made a mistake.” Yes, we all make mistakes. We can’t help Robin Williams. But we can help each other. We want God to overlook our mistakes. We should overlook each others mistakes; Forgive each other.
Let Robin Williams death increase your faith and worship.
God’s more than Someone to go to in a crisis. He deserves more than our prayers when things are going bad. James said, “Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.” That’s an invitation to a relationship with God; An invitation to receive all of the benefits of an all-knowing, all-loving God. The day will come when God will call us away. We need to be ready to go.
James said, “Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year and buy and sell and get gain; Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow; For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. For that, ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.”
We’re not promised a tomorrow, a next week or a next year. The best thing we can do while we’re still alive is to make things right with God through Jesus. That’s a good way to turn Robin Williams death into a victory.
Don’t blame yourself.
It’s easy to say, “If I had been there, things would be different. If I had said this. If I had done that.”
Robin Williams was 63 years old. He was old enough to run his life. He did. He got confused. He made a bad decision. We’ve all done that. Just trust God to bring good out of this.
I want to close with a story. As far as I know, it’s a true story. A famous man terminated his life. Everyone was shocked. His family planned a short funeral. A prayer, just a little music, and some Scripture. That’s all. The service was almost over when the man’s daughter stood up. She said, “My dad was a good man. He was good to us. He was good to a lot of people. We should never forget that. It is true that dad got depressed. True that he lost his zeal for life. But I want to ask you to remember his good qualities. I want to ask you to pray for his family. I want to ask you for your understanding and love. And I want to ask God for His mercy for my dad. But remember, please, dad was a good man.”
We’ve gathered here to say goodby to Robin Williams. I ask you to remember the good things: his childhood, his teen years, the happy times; The good things he said. The good things he did. Keep those pictures. Remember the good things.
Finally, we ask God for mercy and grace for Robin Williams. God’s mercy and grace are real. The Bible says His mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13). It says His grace is free to Robin Williams. And to each one of us.
This sermon leans heavily on a sermon written by Rev. Daymond Duck