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'Heroes' and God-talk

There are way too many television programs on my list this season, but last night I finally watched my dvr'd copy of Heroes' fourth episode, The Kindness of Strangers, and thought I'd better post before the fifth episode airs tonight. (Ack.)

This season (or "volume," if we maintain the series' comicbook speak) seems to have a lot more consistent religious language and allusions than the first one (which had quite a bit), and this episode is a prime example. In particular, two of the episode's four storylines dealt with characters making assumptions on what God is doing or trying to tell them based on the events around them--and I think their experiences speak volumes to our own.

In the first storyline, the on-the-run twins Maya and Alejandro almost run over escaped, dehydrated and ailing serial killer Sylar (whom I think is just about one of the most disturbingly and irredeemably evil characters on television). When Sylar realizes who the twins are seeking (Chandra Suresh) and that they must have powers, he begins to manipulate the situation in order to form a closer relationship with them. He gives them his real name (Gabriel Gray--a name dripping with religious connotations) but deceives them by claiming he can help them find Suresh because he is good friends with him. Maya, in desperate need for some solid hope to hold onto, immediately assumes that Sylar's presence is a sign that God has blessed them and instantly trusts him. Her brother, however, seems to have a wiser take on the situation; he's much more skeptical and obviously mistrusts Sylar, but goes along for his sister's sake.

In the second storline, New Orleans heart-of-gold college-aged Monica Dawson lost a lot during Hurricane Katrina and is struggling to support her grandmother, younger brother and cousin Micah. After she's been turned down for a management training position in the fast food joint she works (quite responsibly) in, she confesses that she believes she's meant for something bigger than selling hamburgers. She sincerely and sadly wonders aloud to a friend if God is punishing her because in church she prays to get out of New Orleans while everyone else is praying to help the community. Indeed, Monica is meant for something more--she's just got it wrong as to what that is. While she's just on the verge of discovering her powers, that corner has not yet been turned. Her friend takes a more practical (and loving) approach, telling her that her desires are normal given what she's gone through, but also makes a faulty assumption that Monica's sense of thwarted purpose is just part of her process of dealing with loss.

Both Maya and Monica are making assumptions about what God is doing in their lives based on their circumstances--and that can a tricky ground to walk upon. It's easy to go down those roads, and I'm not sure, in either of their places, if perhaps I wouldn't be doing something similar. Heh, if I were honest, I would confess that in real life I have.

But the truth is there are several things we should consider when we face circumstances we don't understand or if we are trying to figure out God's role in the circumstances we are in. From the likes of Job and more than one psalmist, we are reminded fairly quickly that most of the time we don't have the big picture. Our vision is most often limited when it comes to our circumstances. But--from Job, the psalmists and countless others in Scripture and throughout history--we can be sure of something else: God is good. He is constantly, ever-always present and desperately longing for each and every one of us. We live in the midst of his unfathomable Love and flooding restoration of Life--abundant and grace-full. Yes, evil and the sin and suffering it wroughts all too often is anguishingly overwhelming, but the truth is, it is in its own throes of death.

That ever-present and ever-Loving God is deeply and intimately involved in our circumstances--but it may not be in the way we think (or desire). And sometimes, evil is at play too. We need the wisdom and discernment to know the difference. And that wisdom comes from walking with God, from spending time getting to know who he is and how he acts. It comes from examining ourselves and our fears, desires and motives when it comes to seeking out how God is acting (or not acting) in our lives. It comes from sharing our lives with and seeking the counsel of others who walk with Jesus, too.

I appreciate Heroes because it plays out storylines like these--and that challenges me to examine my own life, heart, actions and motives.

(Images: copyrighted by NBC) heroesctgy

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