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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t succumb to ‘Sand and Fog’

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–The recently released, much-publicized film “House of Sand and Fog” focuses on characters whose lives are ruined by misunderstandings and thoughtless behavior, each paying a hefty price for selfishness and the ill treatment of others.

The end result for one person: suicide.

Such an awful concept as suicide brings to mind desperation, disappointment, futility, aloneness and fear. Despite the fact that it is a narcissistic act, one that devastates those left behind and endangers the victim’s immortal soul, there are people who succumb to this deed as a means of escape, including some in our own fellowships.

Tragically, more suicides occur during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays than at any other time of the year.

It always saddens me when films offer calamitous plot lines without suggesting a spiritual solution. While House of Sand and Fog is a well-executed film, brilliantly acted by Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly, the epilogue leaves the audience in despair.

The parable of this dispiriting Shakespearian-like tragedy has to do with a catastrophic end due to self-centeredness and miscommunication. Someone numbed by mental anguish, however, might not see the filmmaker’s point. Someone in a melancholy state may leave this film further distressed.

Not being a physiologist, I wouldn’t attempt a clinical diagnosis for suicidal tendencies. But I suspect that when people are this traumatized, they can’t be thinking clearly. They’ve become myopic and distraught, unable to see a way out.

But there is another way out.

If you or someone you know questions God’s seeming silence, consider the words from “Are You Sure,” a moving song on “The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Sides,” a Columbia Records album:

Are you sure your prayers haven’t been answered,

now think, sister think.

Are you sure your prayers haven’t been answered,

now think, brother think.

Don’t you dare say the good Lord didn’t stop to hear you,

He hears and sees everything you do.

Stop right now and take inventory,

you’ll come up with a different story.

Because He sees every move you make,

every waggle of your head,

every wink of your eye.

It’s His laugh you’re laughing,

and His tears you cry.

You may not know how to pray,

but He loves you when you try.

So raise your voices high

and the Lord will hear you.

Are you hurting, but uncomfortable with the concept of counseling? Please keep this in mind: the Holy Spirit wants to comfort you. Give Him the chance. Override your reluctance to share your innermost thoughts with another person. Step out in faith and contact a minister who can get you on the road to recovery.

Life is not about finding the right mate and living behind a white picket fence. It’s about endurance, about growing in our trust of God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

But while we all go through valleys of the shadow of death, God is gracious and provides seasons of rest. Your season of rest may begin tomorrow or perhaps a year from now. However long your trial endures, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

Now, I wouldn’t suggest that seeing only movies with blissful topics will heal mind-numbing depression. But in the 1987 film “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing,” the lead utters this simple but thoughtful dictum: “Your head is like a gas tank. You have to be really careful about what you put in it, because it might just affect the whole system.” That may be the most profound line ever spoken in a movie theater.

Don’t rush to the end of the course. It will come soon enough. Keep in mind the mystery that is life. Along with the valleys, there are also the occasional mountaintops. Although the climb seems endless, suddenly, there’s the peak.
Phil Boatwright writes from a Christian perspective concerning Hollywood’s influence on society. For more information about his ministry, go to www.moviereporter.com.

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  • Phil Boatwright