All Shall Be WellOctober 23rd, 2013
I saw a wonderful little movie a few weeks ago, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s about a group of Brits who decide to “outsource their retirement” and move to a resort in India. Well, the “resort” turns out to be anything but, and everyone must learn to adapt. Suffice it to say that some succeed better than others, and those who do learn to embrace their situation find a joy and peace they could not have imagined. But it’s not the plot or the characters that has stuck with me – it’s a line from the young owner of the hotel – “All will be well in the end. And if all is not well, then it is not yet the end.”
I love that line. As the film progresses, it becomes sort of a refrain. Whether the young man is trying gamely to calm an angry guest, or to convince himself that all is not lost, that sentiment lingers in the background of the entire film, serving as a reminder that hope is a good thing.
Over 600 years ago, long before “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Julian of Norwich wrote “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Some people might think that’s a nice little cliché from someone who had no clue about the harshness of life, but it’s not like things were all peaches and cream in 14th century Europe. A third of the population had just been wiped out by bubonic plague. Julian spoke those words because she knew the hope that comes from knowing Christ.
We live in a world short on hope in so many ways. I think it’s one of the by-products of an increasingly secular culture that seeks to separate itself from God. A world without God is a world without eternal life, and thus a world without real Hope. Some folks respond by giving up. Sometimes that comes in the form of suicide. For other people it takes the form of living hard and trying not to think about the consequences. “Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young,” as Ke$ha sings. Others resign themselves to a life where the best we can do is to “Keep Calm and Carry On”. It’s a sentiment you’ve seen on t-shirts, mugs, and all manner of trinkets. It’s even the title of a current song by the band Fun. But we are called to so much more than to party hard or simply “carry on”.
Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) And he shares his life and love with us so that his joy might remain in us, and our joy might be complete (John 15:11). Not temporary highs that leave us hung over, not stone-faced resignation. Joy. Deep, real, Joy that comes from sure Hope. St Paul goes so far as to say that in the face of trouble, “We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5). Hope is, indeed, a good thing. Or as the character Andy Dufresne says in The Shawshank Redemption (my all-time favorite movie), “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
Here’s to hope! Here’s to Joy! And here’s to the knowledge that no matter what things look like now, “All shall be well in the end. And if all is not well, then it is not yet the end”!