Getting to the Heart of the Jovan Belcher Tragedy

JovanBelcher“WHY?” was the single-word lead headline in the Sports page of Sunday’s Kansas City Star.  This past week-end the Kansas City community was rocked by the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker on the Chief’s football team. 

If the story has eluded you, Belcher fatally shot his girl-friend Kasandra Perkins, while his mother and 3-month old daughter, were in the next room.  He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, thanked his Coach, Romeo Crennel, and General Manager, Scott Pioli, for all they had done for him.  Turned. Walked away. Then ended his life.

Teammates, coaches, family, friends and sports writers have all expressed their disbelief. Clearly those closest to him are shaken. Repeatedly this story has been described as shocking.  Senseless.   And tragic.

Predictably many have rushed to assume answers or assign blame.  Respected sportscaster, Bob Costas, used the occasion at half-time on Sunday Night Football to call for more gun control. There has been reports of possible brain damage.  Prescription drug misuse.  Alcohol abuse.  And a domestic argument that spun out of control.

One thing we do know is that we will never know.  Not for sure.  The Bible says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11).  And there are few answers that will satisfy us.

I do not wish to be insensitive.  Generalize on specifics. Or play amateur psychiatrist.  Nor is it my prerogative to pass judgment.  Because each situation is different and unique.  Many of us have been touched by family, friends or brethren who have ended their own lives.  It is painful.  Perplexing.  And traumatic.  Innocent people are hurt.  Family. Friends.  Neighbors.  In this case, Crennel and Pioli’s life will never be the same.  As well as Belcher’s teammates.  And what about an innocent and orphaned three-month old baby girl?

But I am reminded of these facts about man’s nature as the Creator made him.  We are ultimately responsible to God for our own actions (2 Cor 5:10).  To blame guns, football, or head injuries, side-steps the cold, hard fact that this man committed a crime on another person as well as himself.

Furthermore, the heart of a person is more important than their actions.  By all accounts Jovan Belcher distinguished himself in college, earning his B.A. in 3 ½ years while starting in all 45 games.  For the Kansas City Chiefs, Belcher had started in 59 consecutive games since his signing in 2009.  He was active in the community.  And he was respected by those who knew him as a hard worker.  Enthusiastic.  Just an “all around good guy.”

Yet, there was something wrong.  Terribly wrong.  The prophet Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? “ (Jer 17:9).  Unchecked, unguarded and unprotected, the heart can ponder evil thoughts. Devise devious plans.  Act upon unimaginable impulses.

And so the wise man warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23, NIV).

I also was struck by the comments of starting Quarterback, Brady Quinn, who played the best game of his professional career Sunday and led the Chief’s to an emotional and improbable victory over the Carolina Panthers.  In the post game interview he reflected, “The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently.”  Then Quinn asked two thought-provoking questions: “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”

Indeed.  Suppose we all should work a little harder at obeying Galatians 6:2? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

And one last thought.  This comes from a very well written column by Sam Mellinger in Sunday’s KC Star.  “Those of us left to grapple with what’s occurred should hug our children a little tighter today. Be more considerate of our spouses. And confront the cold reality that dysfunction gone unchecked can ruin lives.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

6 Comments

Filed under Adversity

6 responses to “Getting to the Heart of the Jovan Belcher Tragedy

  1. Bill Hood

    Well said, Ken..

  2. Richard Williams

    I really can’t add anything to your observations, Ken. This is a real tragedy for those directly affected and our prayers for consolation and comfort go out to them. Truly our actions have consequences; so we need to be careful in everything we say and do. We cannot control unintended consequences, but we CAN control our thoughts and actions.

  3. Billie

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT WHEN ASKING SOMEONE HOW THEY ARE FEELING. LOOK THEM IN THE EYE, ASK WITH MEANING, AND LINGER TIL THEY REALLY ANSWER THE TRUTH. IT IS SO EASY TO SAY “HOW ARE YOU”, THEN JUST WALK AWAY. WE AS CHRISTIANS REALLY NEED TO FOCUS ON OUR WORDS AND WAIT FOR AN ANSWER. THX FOR THE REMINDER.

  4. Alan

    Ken, I’m reminded of the time when I was asked by others how things were going, I would give them the standard reply, things were good when in reality they were not good. I did not want to be a burden to anyone or cause them to feel sorry for me. That was why I answered the way that I did. Was that right? Well no because it was lying. I then decided to do as the scripture you referenced (Galatians 6:2). I thought how could anyone bear my burden if I did not let them know what it was. The next time I was asked that question, I opened up. You should have seen the look on that individuals face. He looked to be saying, what did I get myself into. That person started to slowly back away in order to escape from the conversation. I could see this so I stopped. The thought of suicide has NEVER crossed my mind. I believe it to be a sin against God for which if I was to do I could never be forgiven of it. I also agree with you that it is a selfish act by not thinking of the pain or guilt that you will leave your family or friends with. In my life I have had plenty of things not go well for me. What keeps me going is the fact that I know that there are others who have it many times worst than me. Plus the fact that God causes all things to work together for good, to those that love Him, to those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). When I have asked others how they are doing and I get the “standard” reply OK (which I can tell is not the case), I then ask them, Now how are you really doing? If they still do not wish to open up, I leave my door open for them to talk later if they so choose. Good thoughts in this article and I appreciate them.

    • Alan, you sound like a nice person, but I have to disagree with you regarding suicide. Just because it has never crossed your mind, does not mean you never WILL have that cross your mind. It just means you’ve been ‘blessed with’ a different kind of burden to bear. Yes, I said blessed with, our burdens are what bring us closer to God. Your saying that you think it is a sin against God you could never be forgiven of doesn’t make that true either! Have you ever experienced depression? REAL depression. I have, and I lost a sister to suicide 25+ years ago. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain-a disease-just like cancer. To accuse victims of suicide for taking their own lives is like condemning someone who died of cancer of committing a sin against God for which they can never be forgiven of too. I’ve lost several relatives to suicide since my sisters death, though hers was the first. Depression runs in my father’s side. I am also an RN, with 20+ years of experience, I KNOW what I’m talking about…I could say loads more, but I won’t…I also know what it feel like to have someone-mostly ‘Christians’-ask me how I’m doing, then get that backing away response you talked about when I give them an honest answer, so I’ve learned NOT to answer truthfully. You see-because I suffer from chronic pain and chronic fatigue, and never get better-people really DON’T want to hear about it..so I don’t give them an honest answer anymore, I’ve learned it’s better to NEVER trust ANYONE but God. Jesus never did-and that’s good enough for me! So…when you are done passing judgement, and patting yourself on the back for being such a terrific fellow that you never turn anyone away, remember this-your response to Pastor Ken’s post turned ME away…Sorry if that hurt, but it’s the truth

  5. Faloria Jones

    THANK YOU. WILL REMEMBER THIS..

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