The tragic death of Gary Speed has touched the nation. All over the country football fans have stood in silence and spontaneously broken out into applause to express their great respect for Gary and their heartfelt sympathy for his wife and family. He had an exemplary playing career and had been enjoying great success as the manager of the Welsh national team. The news of his death stunned us all. Our daughter was in the same class in school as Gary and his wife. Many of his friends had no idea of the dark struggle he was experiencing. On the surface everything seemed fine but, tragically, it was not.
We are living in sad times when many people are depressed and some are in despair. Many feel alone and vulnerable. Our secular, materialistic culture has no soul, no deep spiritual values and certainties. There is an emptiness in the hearts of many people. Success and wealth cannot satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. Living in the public eye is not easy and the pressures are very great. Popular opinion is fickle. Celebrities may be lavishly praised or savagely destroyed.
The response of fans at many football grounds affirm that Gary was widely loved and respected, yet he still felt alone and overwhelmed. In the darkness of the night and the darkness in his heart he felt unable to go on and to face the future. The most important thing in life is our relationships. Yet sometimes we do not realise the love with which we are surrounded by our family and friends. It is so important now for Gary’s wife and family to experience the love of those around them as they struggle with the devastating consequences of his death.
We can also know a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He came into the world to reveal God to us and to give us a living hope. One Christmas carol, says, “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace, hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, glory to the new-born King.” Beyond the glittering Christmas lights we all need to experience God’s amazing love in Jesus, who came that we might have a rich and satisfying life.