Similar to Doctor Who and his impossible girl, Robin Williams has been strewn across my entire timeline. Whether as the Genie, Peter Pan, Professor Sean Maguire, and John Keating, the man was nothing short of a genius and his influence on my life has been profound.
Some have said comedy is born out of pain—this mask worn to cope with the struggles of life. I can't help but wonder if his brilliance was in part due to his life-long battle against depression.
He never claimed to be perfect. Numerous times he'd run to other things to numb the pain, the self-doubt, and the demons that plagued him. But there's something about being acquainted with human frailty that causes us to rise above.
Robin Williams was able to masterfully utilize all the questions in his life as ammunition toward the ones so deeply felt in others.
When we were mourning, he'd teach us to laugh. When we were crying, he'd dry our tears. When we were hurting, he'd be there to comfort us.
Behind that wrinkled, well-worn, contagious, bright-eyed smile was a familiarity with pain. It was his acquaintance with grief that made him relevant enough, or even caring enough, to help.
What he could do was nearly divine, and it's because it was. God's fingerprint marked his very soul. Men like Robin Williams point beyond themselves—they point to someone greater.
Robin Williams points us to Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus in this way:
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3
It's the humanity of Jesus, the sorrow of Jesus, the rejection of Jesus—it's His acquaintance with grief that makes Jesus matter in our lives.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Without experiencing pain, He couldn't help us endure it. Without feeling loss, He couldn't help us become full. Without seeing death, He couldn't help us overcome it.
My heart mourns for Robin Williams and his family on this anniversary of his death—a man who although he brought such joy to others, seems he had yet to truly experience it for himself.
Wherever you are today in your life-long search for joy:
in your darkness, Jesus is there. in your sorrow, Jesus is there. in your hurt, Jesus is there.
Jesus came so His joy may be in you—that your joy may be full.