My wife and I watched The Help, a 2011 film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel. The film is about a young white woman, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during the burgeoning Civil Rights era in America (the early 1960s). Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids (referred to as “the help”), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.
One of my favorite scenes is when Skeeter’s mom says to her daughter, “Courage sometimes jumps over a generation, but I am so proud of you for what you have done in writing this story.” I lifted my hands and shouted, “Yes,” as the idea of victory resonated in me. Amidst a racist environment in her hometown of Jackson, MS, Skeeter’s determination to earn the trust of the women and help them tell their story was very inspiring to me. Her courage exemplifies the willingness to face difficult circumstances and find solutions to better people’s lives.
This past weekend the Boston College men’s hockey team won the NCAA Division 1 championship in Tampa, FL. It was the fifth national title in their history and reflected the excellence, skill, and character of the program Coach Jerry York has built over several decades of coaching. As the final minutes of the game against Ferris State College ticked away, the stadium was rocking. BC led 2-1 late into the third period when they scored their third goal that essentially locked up the victory. A fourth goal moments later had most of the crowd standing and cheering, and by the final horn the place was going wild (at least the sections with the BC fans). BC had won 19 games in a row to finish the season, earn a spot in the Frozen Four tournament, and win its third national title in the last five years. I was cheering and clapping for the BC Eagles from my couch, joining with thousands of BC fans in Tampa and back in Boston.
Read Psalm 118:14-24.
The psalmist talks about the shouts of victory that erupt from the mouths of the people of God because of who He is and what He has done. The writer could be referring to the actions of a Hebrew king or anticipating the victory of Christ’s return, but one thing is sure – the people of God are on the side of a victory. They also learn to live above their circumstances with God’s grace and strength.
Victory is not reserved just for the armies of God, but it can happen individually as well. Words of victory should come welling up from our souls. Sadly, we often bottle them up. Or we don’t talk about them anymore, because we may be experiencing more failure than victory.
The “Lost Boys of the Sudan” are young men who did not let oppressive forces defeat them. Many of them now live in the United States after suffering for their faith – many disfigured and scarred. They were told to renounce their faith and they would be free from the despicable conditions they were in. But they refused. If you have been privileged to meet any of these boys in your town, you would report a look of triumph on their faces. They were winning the battle.
Some of us lose a parking spot, get a less than flattering review at work, or miss out on a scholarship and we’re plunged into sadness. Come on! We can live above those things. By the power of the risen Christ, we can overcome minor setbacks and major attacks and let out a shout of victory. When have you shouted your praise to God or fully expressed your feelings over a major win? Think theologically. Problems melt in the light of Christ. Shout and live in victory.
Love is a verb,