Saddened by the news of Chester’s suicide (Linkin Park’s lead singer), I’ve been listening to the album Hybrid Theory for the first time in years. As I was watching the video of “In the End”, I was drawn to the grass growing with each foot step and noticed for the first time the frozen statues that suddenly spring to life. Rain comes as hope to a dry barren land that desperately needs rain. Inspired by this video and Chester’s powerful voice, I humbly offer the following reflection of Luke 15. (Video link: https://youtu.be/eVTXPUF4Oz4)
My prayers are with Chester’s friends, family, and fans, and indeed all those affected by depression and suicide.
(Words in italics are lyrics from Linkin Park’s song ‘In the End’ from album Hybrid Theory, 2000.)
Luke 15 – for those who wrestle with addiction, depression, and suicide
It Starts With
Maybe it was a city centre? Or a bus stop? Maybe a pub or a taxi rank?
He was surrounded by folks who wanted to hear more about what he had to say.
But they were also there – the accusers.
The voices hissing criticism at his every move.
All I know
Jesus told a story.
Of a dad and his two sons
One son wanting out, now. “Give me my inheritance, ‘cause I can’t stand another minute with you!”
Money in hand, slam.
Would he ever come back?
The other son didn’t care. “Good riddance!”
Dad could only watch and wait.
Watch you go
The son with sudden funds found the world outside his home
Found the drugs, the parties, the sex, the loud music to drown the doubts out
But then the money was gone
The party stopped
The music was replaced by the thoughts circling in his head
It got so far
He worked, a hired hand, looking after pigs.
One day, starving, longing for the pigs’ food,
he confronts his shame head on.
Shame no longer holds his face into the mud
He returns home to beg from his dad
I tried so hard
And got so far…
His dad was still watching and waiting for his son to return
He saw him turn the corner at the edge of the road
He ran out the front door towards his son
“Dad, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’m a wreck. Please help.”
I had to fall
To lose it all…
Dad just hugs him, covers him with a warm coat, and tells the whole street, “My son is home! My boy’s back! Party at ours!”
Without knowing it, Dad kicked shame to the curb, never to return.
I’ve put my trust in you
Jesus told this story to folks who needed to know that God wasn’t the type of God who wanted to hold their faces into the mud, forcing them to live as royal subjects to shame. Jesus told this story in front of the accusers, the ‘older brothers’ who were all too quick to shout “Good riddance!” when another person failed to be perfect.
Jesus was saying to everyone – There’s only one thing you should know
God runs to embrace us the moment we start to move towards him.
There’s only one thing you should know
We can keep trying to heap shame on each other, but that’s not what God’s about.
God’s running across the fields
Running to protect
Running to embrace
Running to bring us out of shame and back home where we belong.
We pray for all those who have run so far from home and have found themselves in an unsafe place, doing things they would never have thought they would ever do, and don’t even recognise themselves anymore. Help them to remember who they really are, that you love them. Help us in the church not to heap shame on anybody, but to be people who respond to those struggling with depression or addiction with love and compassion.
(If you are thinking of suicide or self-harm, contact someone for help. The Samaritans can be contacted free on 116 123 (in the UK) or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in the US, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. Reach out. There is no shame in getting help.)