I’m no musical genius, but I would put Whitney Houston in the top ten women’s voices of all time – and certainly one of the greatest voices in American music history. Barbara Streisand – another of those voices - possessed magnificent depth of feeling; but in terms of sheer power and range and the ability to send delicious chills coursing down your spine, Whitney Houston’s voice was simply unmatchable.
She was also beautiful. I remember watching the movie The Bodyguard and seeing Whitney’s face filling the movie screen and thinking over and over again what an incredibly pretty woman she was.
Fame, fortune, beauty and talent all in amazing quantities. If you wanted to know what it was like to have it all, Whitney Houston would have been the one to ask.
I also remember seeing her last year – gaunt, emaciated, sick-looking, eaten alive by drugs – and wondering how such a beautiful woman could so quickly come to resemble a gargoyle.
Now she’s dead, very likely the same way Amy Winehouse ended up dead.
And it’s so incredibly sad that somebody so successful, so talented, so beautiful would destroy herself the way she did.
The quickest path to a fast death is to be a rich drug addict.
But why did she – with all of her amazing talent and resources – take this path?
It is amazing how many of “the beautiful people” have ended this way. And there is a lesson worth pondering in that.
Imagine being able to have anything in the world that you want and being miserable.
Imagine having everything the world can offer and discovering that nothing in this world makes you happy.
I think about the poor person who buys a lottery ticket and dreams and schemes of what his or her life could be like if he or she just got lucky. Whitney Houston had long since lost hope of having any such dreams and schemes. Imagine the desolation of her soul.
To answer the poor person who says, “If I only had a thousand – or a million – more dollars, I would be happy,” my response is, “No, you wouldn’t. If you had a thousand more dollars, you’d very quickly want a thousand more, etc., etc. Nelson Rockefeller – the richest man in the world at the time – was asked how much money is enough; and his response was, “Just one more dollar.” And that’s the way degenerate human nature has rewired itself. We’re all like that. We can try to fill ourselves with money or fame or success or sex or food or drugs or any other idol you can possibly imagine. And it is never enough.
And Whitney Houston had experienced that condition until she was sick to her soul.
God hardwired us to find rest and completion only in Himself. And nothing else in this world – no matter how much of it we try to fill ourselves with – can possibly make up for the absence of God in our souls.
I remember watching a news program – I think it may have been Nightline but I can’t recall – during the war that was going on in Yugoslavia between the Serbs and the Croats. Croatians, Slovenians and Bosnians were driven out of their homes by an ancient hatred that the collapse of the USSR allowed to erupt yet again. And these people – who had been educated, successful people – were relegated to picking through the garbage of American troops to look for food or something of some value that they could sell or trade.
One of these victims of war paused in his scavenging to respond to a reporter. And I will never forget what he said:
“We are living like animals. Is this all there is to our lives? Is there nothing more?”
And see, the incredible thing about that is that Whitney Houston, or Amy Winehouse, or Heath Ledger, or Kurt Cobain, etc., etc. – with all of their fortunes – were asking themselves the very same questions.
What would it be like to have everything the world can offer and still be miserable? What would it be like to have be able to get anything you want – except hope?
If you wanted to know what it was like to have it all and discover that everything the world could ever offer was worthless, Whitney Houston would have been the one to ask.
There is one way out of this world besides the route that Whitney Houston took tragically early. Saint Paul described it thus:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” — Philippians 3:7-12
Mock us all you want, secular humanist world, but we have one thing that you will never have if you continue down your same path – we have Jesus. And we have the hope of resurrection life.
No matter how bad things might get for us, no matter how terrible of a mistake we may have made, we have hope. Hope of forgiveness, hope of a better tomorrow, hope that Jesus Christ will one day make everything as new.
Whitney Houston began her music career singing in a church choir. I truly hope that beautiful, fragile soul heard the gospel and believed it before her life turned into something ugly.
Christians can be wretched sinners; in fact, the first necessary condition of coming to Jesus Christ in faith and asking Him to heal you and make you whole involves acknowledging that you are a wretched sinner. Because it is from that beginning that God begins to work out His resurrection life in your soul.
And once you have tasted that eternal life, you never lose it. If you have eternal life, how can you lose it? Which means that if Whitney Houston ever tasted it, she’s in heaven with Jesus right now.
I pray that Jesus called Whitney home to Himself to spare her from more self-inflicted pain.
And I and many others on this earth mourn the loss of one so beautiful and so talented who didn’t know how to find joy in this world.
And I send up a prayer that Whitney Houston is truly resting in peace this night.