A few days ago Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston, passed away. She never recovered from a bathtub drowning that is still under investigation.
I realize some people don’t have a lot of compassion for Bobbi and her mother. After all, in light of those who die as innocent victims of circumstances, it is hard to feel sorry for people who contribute to their own demise. The case is incomplete in regards to Bobbi, but certainly Whitney’s choices were a major contributing factor in her own death.
Ok. I must admit I am biased here. I believe Whitney Houston had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard (second only to my mother – “Hi Mom!”) and I am personally saddened at her loss. We must also remember a tragedy, in the classical sense, can involve people who are responsible for their own trouble. In theater a tragedy might focus on a character that evokes pity when his or her vice leads to an unfortunate reversal of fortune. This is certainly the case with Whitney, and the coroner’s report suggests it was likely a factor in Bobbi’s death.
The facts in this case are hard for me to wrap my mind around. A famous mother dies, and a little over three years later her daughter dies at the age of 22. She leaves behind an estate of over 100 million dollars, and a certain legacy of court battles yet to come.
Why am I pondering this subject? I believe it illustrates the notion of a “kingdom tragedy” for those who know the Lord and stop short of reaching their potential. Vices and bad company aside, Whitney and Bobbi knew the Lord. One might argue they had a strange way of showing it. They were conflicted in so many ways. But aren’t we all? I mean, how many of us are also a part of a kingdom tragedy?
I have met people who allow bitterness to rot their hearts from the inside out and use the pain of yesterday as an excuse to act in the most unchristian ways. That’s a tragedy. I know those who find fault with the efforts of others who serve the Lord, but always seem to have a good reason why they can’t contribute. I understand the psychology that leads to this behavior, as our criticisms are a defense mechanism against personal guilt, but it is still a tragedy. And I have watched people use the church family as a safe place to teach their children good morals, then seek other interests when their kids are gone. It never occurs to them many of the people who cared for their children did so after their own children were raised: another tragedy.
“Wait a minute! What are you talking about? I’m a good person!” you say. Here’s the deal. When we float along in our faith and take the best the Lord’s church has to give while finding every reason imaginable to justify our own lack of commitment, that’s a tragedy. We are throwing away the time, gifts and resources God gave us, and tossing them to the wind where the world will use up what remains of the possibilities we were given.
Just so you know I have not lost perspective. I am aware people with serious addictions usually end up hurting a lot of other people. Had Whitney Houston been able to overcome her problems, she would have been around to help guide her daughter. Instead, Bobbi Brown was left with a major void in her life and a trap set by Satan that eventually led to her demise. Certainly a good citizen who takes care of his or her family and avoids sinful practices deserves our respect.
All I am saying is, biblically speaking, there isn’t much difference between the tragedy of potential destroyed and potential unused. You don’t believe me? Consider Jesus’ parable where a wealthy master gave three individuals three separate measurements of wealth (talents) before he went on a journey. The ones with five and two talents made wise investments and doubled the master’s money. But the one with one talent hid it in the ground. When the master came back he praised those who had used his money wisely, but to the one who hid his talent he said: “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:26-30)
See what I mean? Don’t be a tragedy.