Philip Seymour Hoffman: The long fight

Philip Seymour Hoffman / Justin Hoch

Philip Seymour Hoffman / Justin Hoch

Philip Seymour Hoffman was an excellent actor, in my book, partly because he was unencumbered with dashing good looks like Tom Cruise, George Clooney, and Pierce Brosnan. While Hoffman surely used his physical appearance in his craft, he had to develop strong acting skills to connect with audiences. In a culture enamored with beautiful people, it was good to see a guy who didn’t fit the mold make it in the entertainment industry. I don’t know if he was a good person or if he had a faith in God. I don’t know if he struggled with mental or physical ailments, though it would seem so. Certainly his death was tragic. It was self-destructive and will affect his family for the rest of their lives.

In Christendom, we tend to react to the type of death suffered by Hoffman as sad but also confirmation of our opposition to the evils of alcohol and substance abuse. Read Proverbs 23:31-32 and Proverbs 31:6 for a Bible perspective on substance abuse. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the abuse of alcohol and drugs can indeed have tragic consequences for many people. Addiction is a lethal enemy that comes dressed in many disguises. For instance, I knew a wonderful Christian man who ate so much food and put on so much weight that it resulted in his early death.

Stories like Hoffman’s beg some uncomfortable questions, such as: What is a person supposed to do if they are in constant mental or physical distress for which modern medicine has no cure? What is a person afflicted by chronic pain supposed to do when God does not heal in response to prayer? Sure, there are trite answers that we Christians offer in an attempt to comfort the suffering and guard our faith. Answers like: “Because Jesus was also human he can relate to your suffering.” If I am in chronic pain, hearing clichés like that does not help. Chronic pain (whether physical or mental) walks over reason, morality, and the ability to choose wisely. Pain is an adversary that is often beyond our ability to cope with. Even so, we must continue petitioning God for relief. God does not react to us the same way we react to a child who keeps pestering us for a new toy. We are told in the Bible to keep asking God for what we need.

Here is where I have a problem with some people in chronic physical pain or mental distress—when there is a cure or treatment that can reduce or eliminate their suffering, but they reject it. Hoffman at least tried to defeat his addiction using the tools available to him. Many people don’t even try, or they try by using the wrong tools. Anyhow, knowing Christ doesn’t guarantee we will overcome our addictions, pain, and all problems in this life. If that were the case, the entire human race would flock to Christ for the wrong reasons. Our biggest problem is our sin and separation from God. And Christ, if we let him, always forgives our sin and leads us back to God. Forgiveness of our sins and friendship with God are what improves our odds of overcoming addiction, pain, and life’s problems.

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Posted on February 8, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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