Fifteen years ago, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne battled a megalomaniac Ra’s al Ghul who wanted to rule the world and exterminate the population of Gotham City because of their raging evil. But of course, Wayne is also Batman – and he’ll stop at nothing to protect Gotham, even its more villainous citizens.
The events of the last few weeks are like something out of a movie. Sometimes, it’s a horror movie (World War Z, I am Legend); sometimes, it’s out of a superhero film like Batman Begins where the average citizen’s only hope is someone riding in at the last possible second to save the day.
Friends, this isn’t a movie, and the Avengers aren’t going to fly in with the X-men on the Quinjet to rescue us. This is a pandemic of ridiculous proportions which too many societies have been slow to respond to, and this is the situation we’re actually in. But … we still need some heroes, some role models, to show up BIG.
(Guess what? The people we normally slide into the hero spots – the athletes and the movie stars and the politicians – they’ve all been reduced to sideline sitting. All the while the real every day heroes – the teachers, the first responders, the military, the healthcare providers – they keep doing what they’re doing as a service to everyone else! While I’m at it – how about a shout-out to your trash guy or girl? Without them, the world would look a lot like Wall.-E’s world.)
As I watch the news, or better yet, read my social media feeds, I see quite a few folks who have been ramped up into a full fledge panic, panic driven by their own fears (which may be justified), what they’re reading on the Internet (which may be right … or wrong), and what the people they look to for leadership are saying about the coronavirus. These folks are leading, too, but what are they leading each other to exactly?
What would happen instead if we recognized, as a society, churched or not, that we have the chance to model for our children what it looks like to be courageous. Courage isn’t knowing who we are or what will happen to us in the midst of our fear, but battling through the things that cause our fear anyway! It’s that kind of courage – calm under fire – that will model for our children how they should respond when they face all manner of hardships over their lives. It’ll inform how they respond to death, to financial loss, to changes in their schedules, to upheaval in their work lives. It will show them (and maybe tell them) what it means to be a faithful person no matter what.
Yes, we need the ideals of superheroes like Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others, to challenge our imaginations and inspire us. But we need to be heroic, each in his or her own way, in the face of what we have put in front of us. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo says to Gandalf, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Gandalf’s reply is so deep and wise, so emblematic of the White Wizard: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Someone is watching you, taking mental notes about how to respond to the uneven challenges all around them. It’s not right or fair or fun, but who you are right now matters in the example you set.
2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”