NFL Pro-Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens (T.O.) has reportedly attempted suicide. Reports also indicate that the flamboyant Dallas Cowboys star recently confided in friends that he was depressed. The depression had apparently come to a head late Tuesday as Owens reportedly intentionally overdosed on his pain medicine.
As I read the reports and heard the ESPN guys trying to make sense of this scenario they kept on asking why? Why would T.O. attempt suicide? What would push him to such extremes? After all, this is the guy who is arguably the most dominant man on the planet at his position, the man who has an extraordinary physique, unlimited potential, a $25 million contract, numerous promotional deals and the ear of all of the media every time he speaks. Why is he so behaving so ‘irrationally’?
From a biblical perspective T.O.’s actions (if they are confimed as true) are not surprising. They are extremely sad, but not surprising.
Biblically we understand sin to be rebellion from God. At the very core of this rebellion is the struggle for sovereignty. In sin we reject God’s sovereignty and seek our own. What ensues is a life of manipulation, or trying to orchestrate and control life’s circumstances. This shameless self-promotion often tears down others while trying to promote self. This is why we as sinners lie, cheat, slander, yell at people, boast in ourselves and our great exploits, tear down others and their accomplishments, and blame others for everything. Manipulation is a constant realization of a lack of sovereignty and the attempt to gain it, at the expense of anyone or anything else.
And really when you look at T.O.’s career in the NFL you see a steady string of manipulation. This is consistently seen whether he is publically calling former 49’er quarterback Jeff Garcia gay, shouting down Eagles coach Andy Reid, signing a football with a sharpie after a touchdown, mocking Ray Lewis during a game, blaming the Super Bowl loss on Donovan McNabb, or recently blaming his injuries on the coaches for ‘over using him’. This most recent action is really no different. Suicide is a futile and sad attempt of hopelessness in effort to ultimately control his circumstances.
T.O. has no financial needs, his life is freely promoted by ESPN, he has the opportunity to play a game for his job and yet he is not happy. The diagnosis for his actions is not irrationality but depravity. T.O. is attempting to control everything around him and find satisfaction in fleeting things. These things only create more thirst and his lack of control creates a greater realization of his own lack of control and in turn…a greater need for it. Suicide ultimately squelches the desire for satisfaction and, in a morbidly bizarre way, attempts to declare final sovereignty.
Situations such as this should cause Christians to thank God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ for his immeasurable grace. For it is only in Christ, who redeems sinners from their pursuit of self-worship, self-sovereignty and self-dependence while proclaiming his worship, his sovereignty, and our dependence upon him.
The logical end of depending upon ourselves is death. For when we understand, I mean we really understand that we have no power to either keep up with or satisfy our lusts we then we really understand that we are hopeless and futile. The logical end of self dependence is indeed death.
Conversely, the gracious end of Christ dependence is life!! For when, by grace, we understand the above truth and see Christ as sufficient to give us life, remove our guilt from sin, satisfy our affections and rule our lives then we have hope and strength! The gracious end of Christ dependence is life!
When you read of T.O. be grieved for him, even pray for him, but do not miss this opportunity to exalt in the grace of God through Jesus Christ while growing more impressed with Jesus.