Like Rock Stars Gone Too Soon, ‘I Thought Happiness Would Be Found in a Bottle or Drug’
Pastor Greg Laurie reveals the answer to a search for life's meaning: a personal relationship with God
By now, you’ve heard the news of the tragic suicide of Swedish superstar DJ Avicii (shown above right). Tim Bergling (his real name) was at the top of his game, making millions of dollars, and had what most young people dream of today — fame and money. He appeared before jam-packed arenas and was in constant demand.
But that fame took its toll on the 28-year-old, and he committed suicide by cutting himself with a piece of broken glass, ending his short life. Unfortunately, this has become a far too familiar story.
Last year around this time, Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden, took his life. Following on the heels of that, Chester Bennington, a close friend of Cornell’s, also committed suicide, on the birthday of his friend.
Why does this narrative continue to play itself out decade after decade, generation after generation? Baby boomers all remember the drug-related deaths of ’60s rock icons Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison of the Doors, all at age 27.
The king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley (above left), had his fill of fame and basically gave up toward the end of his life. His widow, Priscilla Presley, indicated Elvis may not have died by accidental drug overdose but by suicide. Of the many notes Elvis wrote, one apparently said: “I’m sick and tired of my life. I need a long rest.”
I recently watched a documentary about Elvis called "The Searcher." It showed the slow but sure demise of the rock architect and legend.
Ironically, the documentary was narrated by Tom Petty — who became a heroin addict in the '90s and died of a prescription drug overdose shortly after narrating Elvis's tragic story.
The self-proclaimed prince of pop, Michael Jackson, who married the king of rock 'n' roll's daughter, Lisa Marie, also died of drug-related causes. Rock superstar Prince did, too.
David Cassidy, '70s teen heartthrob, struggled with drugs and alcohol for many years. He ultimately died of liver failure. His daughter said that his last words were "So much wasted time!"
It reminds me of a passage from the Bible, written years ago by wise old King Solomon: "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NKJV).
And now Avicii.
The family of the Swedish star released a statement that included the clear message his death was by suicide: "He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace."
I wish I could have sat down with this man and had a conversation about the very things he longed for –– meaning, life, happiness. We all long for those things deep down inside. You might say we are hard-wired to seek these things, and so we should.
Let me give what I believe is the answer to the questions Avicii had.
It's the same answer to the search of Jimi, Janis, Jim, Elvis, Michael, Prince, Chris, and Chester. You find the answers in a relationship with God. You were created to know and have a relationship, even a friendship, with the Creator of the universe. You have a hole in your heart, a void in your life, and the empty space can only be filled with God Himself.
The meaning of life is to know God and walk daily with Him, discovering His amazing plan that He has for your life on earth, and in the afterlife, in heaven.
Happiness will never be found by pursuing it outright. It will come, rather, as a byproduct of knowing God. The Bible says, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 144:15 NKJV).
Christ really is the answer.
Like those rock stars, I, too, thought happiness and meaning would be found in a bottle or a drug. And after spending two years of my life chasing that, I realized it was not the answer. I know it sounds like a cliché, but Christ really is the answer.
Jesus Christ was not just a good man; He was the God-Man. He walked this earth and breathed our air, lived our life, and then died our death. He suffered and died on a Roman cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven and have a fresh start in this life, and hope in the afterlife.
Let me have the conversation with you that I would have loved to have had with Avicii. I will be talking about life's meaning to over 100,000 people on June 10 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at an event we are calling Harvest America. You can join us in person, or stream it at harvestamerica.com.
Greg Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America, and is the founder of Harvest America, a large-scale evangelistic ministry attended by more than 7.6 million people worldwide, in stadiums and arenas and at livestreaming locations across the world.