Last night, I gathered with some Advance Conferees in our area for our bi-weekly Bible Study. This week, we watched a movie and talked about it afterwards. Something interesting surfaced in our discussion that has stuck with me. It keeps rolling around in my mind, because it presents a kind of paradox, and yet one with which many Christians are very familiar. This wasn’t a “Christian” movie, but ultimately the message was one of hope, redemption, and victory.
The movie was about a group of young adults, thrown together by circumstances, struggling to discover who they are. The problems that beset them are sometimes brought on by themselves – but more often by the actions of others or the vagaries of life. Needless to say, none of them would have chosen their problems. However, by the end of the movie, you get the feeling that the characters that face their problems would not have chosen any other route.
One of things about the story that stood out the most was that the characters that seem most oblivious to their shortcomings were the least likely to honestly confront the problems (or sins) in their lives – and the most likely to remain stuck in one place. While the movie showed that life can be difficult, it also showed that for those who seek authenticity and truth, loving and forgiving others along the way, life can also be a source of great joy, wisdom and growth.
There’s a “repeat after me” song we sing at camp about a person going on a bear hunt who encounters obstacles all along the way. Every time the hunter encounters a river or some other barrier, we say, “Can’t go under it. Can’t go over it. Can’t go around it. Guess I’ll go through it!”
As much as we might want to avoid “going through” some of the obstacles in our own lives – not doing so means remaining forever stuck. For you, it might mean working through forgiveness for someone who has hurt you. For someone else, it might mean overcoming an addiction. For someone else, it might mean dealing with chronic pain or the diagnosis of a terminal illness. The variety of obstacles is nearly endless.
Sometimes, when life throws more at us than we think we can survive we feel forsaken and alone. It can seem like God is far away. But we must never forget that at the center of our faith stands the cross. It reminds us that God is able to bring good out of bad, strength out of weakness and life out of death. If there is one thing our faith teaches us, it is that God has not forsaken us (even when we feel alone), but that God walks with us “even in the valley of the shadow of death.”
It’s funny how a movie can reflect the reality of life so well. It’s not so funny when we must face the difficult realities of our own lives. Let us do so, not with despair or avoidance, but with faith that God will bring us out the other side – wiser, stronger and more full of life than we were before. That is the Good News Jesus came to proclaim and lived and died for us to receive. Believe it… and live.