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Finding significance in the wake of 2 Hollywood suicides

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Lee Thompson Young on the set of Rizzolli and Isles (Credit: Lee Thompson Young via Facebook)

Another young Hollywood actor has committed suicide.  Lee Thompson Young achieved fame early, becoming star of Disney’s “The Famous Jett Jackson” at the age of 14.  He graduated with honors from the University of Southern California and went on to act in “Friday Night Lights.”  He also appeared in TV shows including “Smallville,” “Scrubs,” “CSI: NY” and most recently, “Rizzoli & Isles.”  He was found dead in his apartment on Monday.  Young was 29 years old.

This news follows the suicide of Gia Allemand, who hanged herself in her New Orleans home on August 12 and died two days later.  The actress and model was best known as a finalist on Season 14 of “The Bachelor.”  

From Marilyn Monroe to Kurt Cobain, Hollywood is no stranger to young celebrities who take their own lives.  Wikipedia lists 243 “notable people” who committed suicide.  Clearly, public acclaim is no guarantee of inner peace.

Earlier this week, I encountered a strange text: “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys [rock badgers] are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:25-28).  Not many people esteem ants, badgers, locusts and lizards.  But God measures success differently than we do.

Ants are successful because they prepare for the future.  They work harder than they must when food is readily available so they will have food when it is not.  No one but God knows the future; we are wise to prepare in the present.  Put in spiritual terms, are you ready for eternity, today?

Rock badgers are successful because they use their circumstances.  They can climb where their enemies cannot, and use difficult terrain for shelter and safety.  Put in spiritual terms, are you asking God to redeem your challenges for his glory and your good?

Locusts are successful because they fulfill their roles as they “advance together in ranks.” Put in spiritual terms, are you accomplishing your Kingdom assignment?

And lizards are successful because they adapt to their environment.  They blend in with their surroundings, hiding in tiny cracks and running from adversaries.  They are therefore as much at home in palaces as the kings who build them.  Put in spiritual terms, are you using your resources and spiritual gifts for God’s Kingdom?

Success is not defined by popularity and possessions, but by preparation, faith, obedience and service.  By these standards, how will God measure your success today?