A few years back, I stumbled upon two short videos on Netflix. One is named, The Old Guard, which talks about a group of what seems to be immortals protecting the world and avoiding people from stealing their secrets of immortality. The other was a documentary on the famous David Foster who wrote many popular and top-chart hits. Both, even though seemed different, talked much about the same thing. They both touched on the subject of what it means to live and our false desire not to die. They highlighted our natural desire to be immortal, in control, and not be forgotten. Nonetheless, the sober truth often reminds us that no one is really immortal and omnipotent, no matter how powerful or popular we might seem to be. We cannot escape the truth that we all have our own expiration dates and no one lives on this earth forever. Therefore, I would like to reflect on mortality and its uncertainties, and how we can better understand them as Christians in the light of real faith, hope, and love.
First, let us ignore a lot of the typical Hollywood propaganda and agenda, as with any movies, in order to focus to the (hidden) substantial messages. The first film reveals a group of immortals who do not seem to die because they are able to heal and regenerate themselves back to life when sustaining dangerous and life-threatening wounds. Nevertheless, we later find out that, even as immortals, they do not know when their wounds will stop healing, hence facing death. Perhaps the directors or screenwriters want to downplay the existence of God by proposing the reality of these immortals, but the sober truth testifies that they are not omnipotent or all-knowing. Their knowledges are finite and limited. They just have the supernatural powers to regenerate and reheal themselves, which afford them longer lifespans than typical human beings.
Over the years, many tried to capture them in order to extract the secret of immortality from them, but the sad truth is that no one lives forever. For me, this movie highlights our ultimate human fears and desires: the fears of dying and not be in control as well as the desires to live forever at all costs. Nevertheless, none of that is really possible because none of us are infinite and almighty. The search for immortality is unrealistic and futile because it ignores and rejects our real nature and its finitude. The truth is hard to accept because we think that we can become more powerful, God-like, and live forever if we just try enough or able to unlock whatever attainable secrets that are out there. All of us are all mortals, we will have die and come to an end here on earth.
In a similar sense, David Foster, who is an amazing songwriter and producer, is also scared of being forgotten. Even though he tries to portray his love for music as the driving force that keeps him moving and working hard, it also reveals on his fear of being forgotten or abandoned. Even though he said that he is a “runner” when things get tough in a relationship, David is scared of the creative tensions, hurts, and possibilities of being abandoned by his many ex-spouses. He says that he regrets of hurting them, and his current wife has to challenge him to not to run and work through their relationship problems with proper communications and relational skills, one can read between the lines that there were moments of disapproval and abandonment in his life that scarred him forever. He touches on some short revealing moments, like his father’s disinterest in his career choice and how he was alone in his early years in the United Kingdom trying to begin his career with a band. David wants to have things perfect, under control, and as he would like them to be; so when he sees problems, trials, or matters that he does not want to deal with, he lets go. He does not want to be forgotten, hurt, abandoned, and lose control, so it is easier to turn to the studio, songwriting, producing, and his natural talents where he has control over others than being out of control and not needed.
In both of these scenarios, we touched on our two foundational fears as human beings. We are scared of dying and being forgotten or not needed. We try very hard to live forever and be in control — at all costs if we could. Nevertheless, reality reminds us of the sober truth that none of us live forever and that life is not always rosy or perfect. It is in our hardships, challenges, and creative tensions that we mature, grow, and appreciate the beauties of life even though it might not be perfect or as we would have liked it to be. I think too many of us want God to be this fixer-upper magician to make bad things go away and always have things in place for us. Nonetheless, He is not interested in captivating our senses for a short moment with shallow and appealing magic or by fixing our things, He wills and desires that we receive His loving grace. The grace of God is much more some magical quick-fixes or appealing matters! The Almighty desires to give us the providential and loving expression of His love that empowers and assists us to embrace, learn, and grow in our journey of faith.
Destructive behaviors and cynical outlooks of life have always existed throughout history. Even in the high, golden, and prosperous time of the Roman Empire, there were writings of many lewd, perverted, destructive, inhumane, and unimaginable behaviors and trends that existed, even with the upper ruling and aristocratic class. From those ways of life, there came many reactive philosophical outlooks and ways of life to combat the atrocities. We saw the developments of stoicism, cynicism, and skepticism arose as ways to make sense of what life really is. However, almost all of these perspectives, outlooks, and ways of life only looked at life in very mundane and worldly means. Perhaps they can only offer a resistive, doubtful, negative, or a form of escapism from reality because their ways of thinking are simply of this world, in this world, and for this world. The only option for us as Christians is of Christ. With all the hopelessness, sufferings, trials, hardships, and even evils in this world, the Lord provides us with an answer and a way to overcome all evil with loving goodness.
In the midst of many reactions to hedonism and its perverted understanding of life, happiness, and pleasure, while facing many confusions and skeptical reactions to a new way of living and faith, early Christians showed the whole world of what it meant to live for something greater. They showed through their courage of what it means to have faith in Christ Jesus. Some even went to give their lives as martyrs for this immense love for the Lord! While many people hated them and were confused why these people would ever do something so radical, Christians said yes to the greater love with their lives and with their beliefs. They lived that out by how they care for all, especially those who were living on the fringes of society, the abandoned, and those who were forgotten. They lived a vivid communal life that respected all members who came from different walks of life, shared what they have with one another, especially the least of all, even though they were still struggling with human frailties to properly love God with the love of their brothers and sisters.
We have to be convinced that the Lord is in control. We are strengthened and grounded in hope because we believe in Him! Just as He is victorious over death in embracing and transforming the Cross (from an instrument of torture and humiliation to the sign of salvation), we know that He is able to bring all things toward fulfillment for those who trust in Him. The greatest lesson for us to learn is to let go of our control and let Him be in control as we choose to live and become instrumental in His divine providence for all. Our anxiety and its depressive end spring from our lack of trust in the Lord as we become more focused and dependent on our self-created abilities to fix all things. We cannot! Easter fills us with hope because it reminds of a real, historical, and salvific event that changed the whole world forever. Jesus conquered death and rose again for each and every one of us! The power of death and this world has nothing over Him for He, as God, has the final word, and that word is life. Therefore, those who believe in Him shall have life and life eternal, even if the powers of this world seem to be cruel and challenging at times.
Many times, people only think that prayer is used when we need to ask God something or as a last alternative in a crisis. Nevertheless, when dealing with loss and things that are hard to comprehend at the moment, prayer is often the best solution. God is on the other side of prayer, and it is perfectly fine to bring our hurts, disappointments, doubts, and questions as part of our prayer times. Perhaps it will take a good while for the person to calm down and move on to something deeper, but it is so important that they offer and bring who they are in the present moment as a part of prayer. If God is truly God for us, we should be able to come to Him at all times and tell Him everything that is in our heart, even things that we cannot understand or comprehend at the moment. Prayer grounds us spiritually when we are going through loss and hurtful moments in life, but it is also important to remember that we have to deal with things humanly speaking as well.
When the evil one wants to deceive us by telling us that we are alone, abandoned, or isolated, let us turn to God in our prayer. When we are too hurt by grief or loss, let us find solace in prayers, even if it means to simply cry or let our raw emotions be our prayers. No matter where we are and what state of life we are in, we can always pray and turn to God. As we come to Him, may we also recognize the importance of the communion we have with others through Him by reaching out to those who are walking alongside with us in our faith and life journeys. May we go a bit deeper each day, sifting through the raw, in order to reflect and try to understand the deeper questions. Those opportunities are important so we can more trust and hope in the Lord, even if we might not understand it right now or at the time. Perseverance and faithfulness in times of grief and loss strengthen and deepen our loving faith in the almighty and loving God who is always with us.
No matter where we are, we are not alone.
God is always with us, and if we make a little effort to go beyond the blind-sighted temptation of isolation, we can reach out to others for help along the way. We are never meant to be alone. So, (hopefully) even with our struggles, may we learn to depend on Him who loves us and those who can help us in different ways since we cannot do it ourselves.