Our Western world is very oriented towards external, material success, but what is true “wealth”? It’s not money, or fame, or influence.
Robin Williams, one of the most beloved comedic actors of all time, sadly took his own life out of fear of Parkinson’s Disease. In contrast, Michael J. Fox, suffering from a more advanced version of the same disease, chose to spend his energies helping others by raising both awareness and money. Robin Williams probably had more going on that spurred the suicide than just the physical disease. Was he depressed? Had he been depressed long before the physical illness set in?
No matter how much money you have, it doesn’t make up for a lack of emotional resilience and faith. And no matter how little money – or health – you have, you can have an abundance of emotional resilience and faith.
What could Robin Williams have done differently? It is impossible to say from afar – only those who knew him best might know for sure. But for all of us, having a strong connection with God to start with can make a huge difference. And while we may not understand why certain things happen – why some people get sick and others do not – we can try to develop the faith to know that there’s a bigger picture, which we are unable to see fully right now.
Michael J. Fox also found a purpose with his disease. Rather than focusing on his own pain, he chose to use his fame and fortune to help others who were also suffering. His biggest life challenge and disappointment has been turned into a path of meaning for him. Is it easy? Probably not. But I’d guess that Michael J. Fox is actually doing what he was really meant to do – help others. His fame was only a means by which his life purpose could manifest. His disease was not a death sentence but an opportunity to contribute.
Look for the hidden blessings in your struggles. Talk to God. And find ways to take your challenges and use them for service.