The Greatest Showman is one of my favorite movies, and not just because of the soundtrack, which is one of the best ever written. I like the story of perseverance told in the life of P.T. Barnum, America’s first true showman. From humble beginnings as a tailor’s boy, Barnum eventually fulfills his dreams of opening his great American Museum in New York. He brings in acts of the peculiar variety, such as Tom Thumb, the bearded lady, and an incredibly tall man. Now, I should let you know that the movie is quite loosely based on his life, of which I have a biography written in 1959, and the book is arguably more exciting than the movie. One commonality between the two, however, is that the American Museum burned down in 1865, and the true reason behind the fire remains a mystery. However, Barnum was in need to reinvent himself in order to make money again. This is how Barnum and Bailey’s Circus was born. Eventually, Barnum partnered with Bailey started a traveling circus, The Greatest Show on Earth. In the midst of tragedy and losing his only source of income, Barnum was able to reinvent how he did showbusiness and became even more successful in the latter parts of his life than he ever was at the museum.
Life throws curveballs at us, like losing a job, being impacted by a natural disaster, or the coronavirus pandemic. My dad had a plaque in his office when he was a probation officer that read, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I always admired that wisdom and try to live by it the best I can. That being said, I’ve had my moments of frustration with this pandemic just like the rest of you. It hasn’t been easy. I miss seeing all my students like I used to. I miss seeing people at church that are staying home because of the health risk of being around lots of people. It’s hard, no doubt about it, but I’ve also tried to make the most out of it, like Barnum did. Over the course of the quarantine, I assembled a youth ministry team to help me more with the youth ministry and bringing in fresh ideas for growth and maturity in the youth of the church. We had our first meeting on August 23rd and I’m so excited for the future of the youth ministry at RCC! The hardest part about it is that I’m still not sure how long it will be until we’re back to normal attendance and normal lives. There’s still a mystery there. However, we all have a responsibility to make the most out of any situation we face.
There are many places in the Bible where it didn’t look good for our heroes. Kenny has talked about some of them in the past few weeks of his current sermon series. Daniel making the most of his situation in Babylon is perhaps the best example. Growing up, I knew the story of Daniel and the lions’ den, but didn’t really know the full story of the book of Daniel. It was just one of those small books in the back of the Old Testament that never really stood out to me. Plus, if I’m being honest, it had a lot of visions and predictions that kind of freaked me out as a kid. When I got to LCU and took Old Testament 2 where we studied the prophets, like Daniel, I fell in love with the story of Daniel. He became one of my favorite characters in the whole Bible because of the faith he showed in God and his attitude in the midst of living in exile. Like Kenny, I try to live like Daniel as well, because he truly reflects many attributes God prizes in His creation.
I don’t know how your life as been specifically impacted by this pandemic. Maybe it’s been really hard on you. I hope this all ends soon. However, even if it continues into 2021 (knock on wood that it doesn’t), Jesus’ words still ring true 2000 years later. “… Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34)” You’ve probably heard me or read these articles where I talk about God’s love a great deal. I don’t apologize for that.
In my Revelation studies that I do during the week, one on Tuesday nights at the church and one on Wednesday night at Aaron and Sarah’s, I’m seeing God’s love play out in an extraordinary way. I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you in the Tuesday night study, because we’re a little behind of Wednesday night, but we just did chapter 11 at Aaron and Sarah’s the week before I’m writing this, and where the plagues have failed in bringing about repentance, chapter 11 tells us that it is the faithful witness and faithful suffering of the church that will ultimately bring people to God. It takes us loving others and putting their need for Jesus first in our relationships with others to bring them to God. This is not easy, but it is optimizing the situation in the most amazing and fruitful way. So, I end with this challenge: How will you optimize your current situation in life, whether you’re doing well or not, to bring people closer to God? That is our ultimate mission and purpose on this planet.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 NIV