Messy lives and The Phantom of the Opera

1“Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all. Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins…may integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you”. Psalm 25:16-21

A few weeks back, I woke up with a bad cold and an even worse mood. I don’t like having a cold. It makes me feel lethargic and saps my initiative. Since I wasn’t feeling too good, I laid around, clicked on Netflix, and watched one of my favorite musicals …”The Phantom of the Opera.” This operetta is deep, tragic and full of real life. Have you ever noticed how the movies or plays with tragic or unhappy endings are usually the ones we remember the most? In my mind, I went through a whole laundry list of shows and movies just prove my point. I noted, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Gladiator”, “The Patriot”, “Star Wars”, and “Braveheart” (just to name a few). In every one of those movies, it is the same story of the reality and struggle of human existence. There is something about those types of artistic expressions that simply feel right.

Have you ever wondered why? It is because that is the way life is…not everything and every human story has a happy ending. Unfortunately, the opposite is so much of what current culture wants you and me to believe. If you have the right system or principles, laws, or technology, you can move progressively to something that is near perfect. Television and movies give us the impression that any and all human dilemmas or issues are only 30 to 90 minutes from the happy ending they were meant to have. For many people, they have bought into the lie that happy endings are what every human being is entitled to. Improvement, happiness, material blessings, easy living, and progress are things God owes us. Unfortunately, if you think about it, that is the reason why much of modern culture is failing us…it is just NOT real. What is real is unpredictability…struggle and pain…brokenness and desperation…sometimes joy and sometimes weariness. As I think back to the “Phantom” movie, I’ve often contemplated, “yep, that’s what more of us need…to see stories that don’t end up where all the characters are fixed, rich, happy, healthy, stable, famous and fulfilled. We don’t need the discouragement.

Complete and total victory is NOT something that is guaranteed this side of the eternal Kingdom. What is predictable? Jesus. As we journey through this life, Jesus is the only ONE whom we can surely bank on. He and His Kingdom provide the only hope that can transform the shattered dreams and broken lives that accompany most of what we call living. If someone is promising complete fulfillment and peace; ideal marriages and children; if someone is saying “just do the following and you’ll have the abundant life that Jesus promised” as if the Word of God was some sort of secret key to giving US all we ever wanted in this life; if those things are happening to you, run the other way! Life isn’t that simple…life isn’t that predictable…life isn’t that mechanistic. If it was, I think Jesus wouldn’t have wasted his time on earth hanging out with people whose lives were complete messes. He would have come to earth when He could have gone on TV and radio and pushed a simple product that gave a quick and painless way to experience all the life that we’ve ever wanted to experience. Wouldn’t you think that God loves us enough to give us a formula if one existed? Think about that for a while!

Going Deeper:

1. What do you think about this devotional? Are you sometimes discouraged that your life isn’t turning out exactly as you had planned?

2. What do you think that Jesus would have to say to you today? Where does He bring you hope? How do you find encouragement and strength in the Lord?

Further Reading: Psalm 23, Psalm 118, Isaiah 40:27-31, John 16:33


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