Can You Find Strength at the Movies?

Can You Find Strength at the Movies?

Insights from “Reel to Real”

Movies stirs up all sorts of emotions…a warm smile, the thrill of a chase, a belly laugh, or even a few tears. Even so, can movies give us strength to face some of the trials that come our way?

In the Movieguide® award-winning movie, LES MISÉRABLES, we see the source of one character’s strength: Joy.

The movie’s main character, Jean Valjean, desperately needs strength to escape his past and live a transformed life so he can raise and protect Cosette, who has just been orphaned, and whom Valjean has taken under his wings. His life was marked by being a thief, and he suffered at the hands of many. Yet, by encountering love and mercy from a Bishop, he finds strength through joy. 

In Dr. Ted Baehr’s new book coming out March 1st titled “Reel to Real: 45 Devotionals for Families,” worthwhile movies are explore to find a connection between the story’s message and principles found in the Bible. By examining LES MISÉRABLES, we can connect Jean Valjean’s joy with an ancient story from the Bible.

Back in the 5th century B.C., a remnant of the Jewish people returned from captivity in Babylon and rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. They needed strength to overcome their fear after Ezra read the Law that God had given them, which they realized they had failed to keep. Their leader Nehemiah offered them joyous strength. He said in Nehemiah 8:10 that, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Just where do we find the strength that flows from real joy? By doing what Jesus called us to do.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11:23–27, to remember Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice for us by partaking in communion and giving thanks for his death and resurrection that delivered us from the shackles of sin. Paul is telling us to give thanks for the fact that Jesus Christ set us free.

The early Greek-speaking Christians called communion the “great thanksgiving” or the Eucharist. This wonderful Greek word is made up of three little words, kind of like nesting dolls. Inside the act of Eucharist (or “thanksgiving”) is the Greek word “charis”, which means “gift,” and in the heart of the word “charis” is the Greek word “char”, which means “joy.”

In other words, the strength of the “joy of the Lord” is found in thanksgiving, not in weeping about what you didn’t do, as they were doing in Nehemiah’s day. The strength of the “joy of the Lord” is a gift you get when you’re giving thanks that Jesus did what you could not: He fulfilled the law to set you free.

It is the joy that Jean Valjean found when he gave thanks for the Bishop showing him the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and when he thanked God for Cosette. 

Where can you find the “joy of the Lord” that gives you the strength to do all that God has called you to do? By giving thanks for Jesus’ salvation which can set you free to live a more abundant life. 

Add LES MISÉRABLES to your watch-list and see how Jean Valjean found the joyous strength of thanksgiving!