As a rule, I prefer chick flicks to all other movies, with the exception of some historical films. I want happy endings. I don’t want to pay $8 to watch reality. All I have to do is look outside, go to class or turn on the news for that. Unsatisfying endings occur every day. When I pay money for an escape, I want happily-ever-afters.
But some movies offer slices of life too true to ignore. They present reality in a light we aren’t accustomed to acknowledging.
One of the best instances of this is Good Will Hunting in a scene between Matt Damon and Robin Williams. Damon’s character has been visiting Williams’ on a court order to receive counseling from a psychologist. Damon has resisted multiple previous attempts by other psychologists to delve into the depths of his psyche, but Williams finally breaks past Damon’s rough façade. While his background has hardened his exterior, Damon finds relief in Williams’ simple consolation:
“It’s not your fault.”
Sometimes, it is our fault. Sometimes, we set ourselves up for failure. Sometimes, we lazily resist efforts that could bring us success. Sometimes, we alienate the people we love out of fear, out of jealousy or even out of sheer apathy.
But sometimes, it’s just not our fault.
Who can we blame for terminal genetic conditions, for stillborn infants, for less than idyllic “home lives?” We struggle to point to something or someone. We search for a reason behind our suffering. Something we did or said. A reason we might have deserved it.
But sometimes, there is no human to blame. There is nothing we did. It’s simply not our fault.
Sometimes, when crisis occurs, when everything we thought we knew seems to be crashing down around us, all we can do is sit helplessly and watch life take its course, wondering at the cosmic reasoning behind our misfortune.
And it’s not our fault.
But sometimes, it’s not God’s fault either. A question asked repeatedly among non-Christians and Christians alike seems to be, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
But the Bible tells us God sends the rain on the good and the evil. And if anything, Christianity offers more earthly suffering, not less. I’ve found that the promise of Christianity lies not in immediate relief, not in the termination of suffering but in the promise of strength.
Natalie Grant’s song Held says it well.
“This is what it means to be held, how it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life, and you survive. This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.”
God doesn’t promise us easy moments. He promises us the strength we need to get through the tough ones. Even when it isn’t our fault.