Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An overachieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress. When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most – music. He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight. Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed. The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive. We love you, Your family.
These tragic words were written by the family of Swedish DJ Avicii (real name Tim Bergling) following his sudden suicide in April this year aged just 28. I’d never heard of Avicii, nor listened to his music and I know nothing about him other than what has been in the media since his death, yet his case made me really sad. I’ll try to explain why.
Avicii was very rich and very famous. On the surface he had everything the heart could desire. Yet underneath it would seem he was deeply troubled; searching for peace and struggling with questions about the meaning of life. So much so that his only answer in the end was to kill himself.
This is desperately sad, but hints at a struggle common to each of us. To a greater or lesser extent we all ask these big questions, we all seek fulfilment and purpose, we all desire to live in peace and more than that, to feel at peace.
Yet, when we look at the world around us (and if we’re honest into our own lives), there is often very little peace. So many people seem to have a void inside them, something that they cannot fill. They search for answers, meaning, fulfilment and peace, but never truly find them.
And yet, it is possible to find peace and purpose, the Bible makes this very clear. The problem is that people are looking in the wrong places.
There is a whole book in the Bible dedicated to this topic. In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon records an experiment he made. He tried everything under the sun – learning, pleasure, possessions, greatness – and he discovered that, as ends in themselves, these things are all futile. He exhorts his readers to ‘Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2) and ends by writing, ‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). In summary, Solomon’s experiment proved that without God we can never have true peace or satisfaction.
To discover the reason for this we have to go right back to Creation. God created mankind in his image, to be special. He gave us each a soul and therefore made us as spiritual as well as physical beings. He designed us to live in a close personal relationship with him.
Before the fall, Adam and Eve had this communion with God, walking with him in the Garden of Eden. This gave them true peace and purpose. Deceived by the devil, their sin changed everything, separating the whole human race from God. Herein lies the problem. We are all still spiritual beings and to have peace and purpose need to be close to God, yet by nature we are completely separated from him. This leaves that gaping hole inside us each. We can try all we like to fill it with possessions and pleasures, but it will still be there.
Today, in the 21st century, the devil is still the same liar that he was in the Garden of Eden and his genius over the last couple of centuries has been to do away with God in the minds of so many people. His great lie is that God does not exist and that we don’t need him anyway. The evolutionary worldview is founded on this and logically means that life has no meaning other than the here and now. So, the message of the world is to enjoy yourself while you can; that happiness and fulfilment can be found in materialism and hedonism.
So, we live in a society where people are always striving for more, for bigger, better, faster, more beautiful. They seek pleasure, possessions and success regardless of the consequences. Traditional Biblical values like marriage, commitment, faithfulness and honesty are thrown out the window. Sex is for fun; lust trumps love. Debt is sky high as we have to have everything now. Image and feelings are more important than truth or reality. Selfishness is rife, the family unit is disappearing. Paul sums it up writing to Timothy,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
And what are the results? Has it all brought peace? It’s the complete opposite!
Society is breaking down. Depression and mental illness are increasing. People are still searching for peace. This is especially true amongst younger people. A recent study by The Prince’s Trust showed ‘that young people fear for their emotional health more than ever before, as worries about the future, money and generally “not being good enough” pile up on their generation’ [Note 1].
So what is the answer? How can that hole be filled?
As Christians we know what the solution is, don’t we? God has given us the answers to all life’s big questions in his Word, the Bible. This tells us the only way to find true peace and purpose is the gospel, faith in Christ and reconciliation with God through him. Peace with God through forgiven sin. Purpose in life through serving and worshipping him. This is what God gives his people as that close relationship with him is rekindled.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The really solemn part to all of this is that each person who reaches the end of their life without Christ and the peace he gives will then be eternally separated from God. That void inside them will be there for ever and will gnaw away at them worse than it did on earth because there will no longer even be the hope that it could be filled.
This is the message for the unbeliever (maybe that’s you?) – but what is the message for the Christian? Well, here are two things to think about:
- Firstly, are you being complacent? Christians can and should have that wonderful peace of God in their hearts and lives – are you experiencing it today? So often we fall into the same traps as the world. We let natural things become too important, we become materialistic. We put our wants before God’s commands. We backslide, we stop reading the Bible, we pray less, we drift away from God. We think that if we just had ‘that’ we would have more peace; that if ‘this’ changed we could serve God better. Yet rather, we should be content with what God has given us and remember that the only things we need more of are Christ and his grace.
- Secondly, in a world where people are looking for answers in all the wrong places, don’t forget the importance of your personal witness and the evangelism of your churches. The world needs the gospel more than anything else and God has given us the privilege of spreading that gospel. Just maybe you will be able to point someone to Christ, the one place where they can find true peace. I don’t know whether Avicii had ever heard the gospel. How sad if he hadn’t, how solemn if he had.
Tim Bergling / Avicii’s search for peace has ended and solemnly it would seem he will never find it now. He was looking for answers to the big questions of life, but not it would seem in the right places.
I pray this tragic case will make you stop and think, because, if you’ve read this article, you now know where the real answers are and where true peace can be found. If you’ve already found that peace, praise God for his grace in giving it to you, don’t take it for granted, and don’t neglect your responsibility to tell others the good news.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)