Being a Bridge Over Troubled Waters

by Rev Robert Wendel

The worst word in the English language is hopeless.   It certainly is a negative adjective.  Hearing of the unexpected, sudden, premature death of actor/comedian Robin Williams who, reportedly, took his own life, I couldn’t help but wonder what might have prevented such a tragedy.

In my fifth year as pastor of Fredonia Baptist Church in New York, I had the sad duty of conducting the funeral service for a second semester freshman at the State University of New York in Fredonia.  Academically, he was doing fine.  But, to solve a temporary personal problem, he chose a solution that was final.

This young man was much loved.  The sanctuary was filled to overflowing with family, friends, classmates, teachers and college staff.  They all had lost a son, brother, nephew, grandson, friend and a good student who felt isolated and unable to see past the dark hole of his own pain.

During the service, I asked for a show of hands from those who would not mind a telephone call in the wee hours of the morning from a depressed friend who needed to talk.  Every hand was raised, without hesitation.  Literally, they all would have helped this guy had he only called.  Suicide is not a solution.

As one of only a handful of ABC endorsed institutional chaplains and pastoral counselors in West Virginia, one of my favorite Bible verses has become when Saint Paul advised the Galatians “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (6:2, NRSV).

Heartaches bring people together. Christian friendships have an immense power to mend a broken spirit.  A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.  We never forget those with whom we have cried.  Healing happens from the inside out, felt but unseen.

Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, whose own son committed suicide, turned to what Paul wrote to the young Christians in Rome saying “I mean I want us to help each other with the faith we have.  Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you” (1:12, NCV).

Rev. Warren explains “In authentic Christian fellowship people should experience a mutual dependency.   This mutuality is the art of giving and receiving: it’s depending on each other.  All of us are more consistent in our faith when others walk with us and encourage us.”  Be a bridge for someone !

The next Men’s Prayer Breakfast is Saturday, September 13th.   Mike White will be doing a presentation on his recent trip to the Holy Land.    This is something you won’t want to miss !!!