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Thomas: Even during this pandemic, we must make the most of our time | RELIGION COMMENTARY

I’ve watched “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of movies more times than I could count. (And “The Hobbit” prequels too!) The intense struggle between good and evil grips my heart. There are so many poignant sayings throughout, but one of my favorites is in the first movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Frodo is the only one pure and innocent enough to carry the evil Ring of Power to the only place it can be destroyed — the very heart of evil itself. But it’s a terrible and heavy burden for Frodo knowing the fate of all Middle Earth rests on him. Evil follows him always seeking the ring and to destroy him and his company who joined him in his fateful task.

In one scene, deep in the ancient underworld of dwarf caves, Frodo and his companions stop to rest and decide which path to take through the mountain. Frodo breaks the silence speaking heart to heart with Gandalf: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

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How many times have we thought the same thing? Be it a tragedy, a heartache, or troubling times?

“Why me? Why, God, must I suffer and carry such pain?” The whole world wishes this pandemic of evil had never happened — robbing innocent people of their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and for many their livelihood. Like Frodo, we really don’t want our current situation and are fearful of the evil that lurks around us.

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What’s memorable is Gandalf’s reply: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

Gandalf the Wizard, the “Christ figure,” explains that ultimately God is in control of the times and circumstances that we must endure. And God has a plan and destiny for the world that includes me and you! Like Frodo, sometimes we can’t see God’s plan as it is obscured by the evil forces at work around us. But nonetheless, God remains faithful to fulfill His plan and is at work whether we see Him in it or not. To paraphrase Gandalf, “We don’t choose such hard and evil times — but we do have a choice with what to do with the time God has given to us!”

Author of “The Lord of the Rings” (and a believer), J.R.R. Tolkien, echoed God’s Word found in Ephesians 5:16, “Make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”

You and I, as Christ followers, can be lights in our families speaking words of hope and life in the darkness of these days. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus to our neighbors, especially the elderly who need to be protected and cared for. A bag of groceries, a trip to the pharmacy for meds, or just a phone call or conversation from the porch can make all the difference in a person’s life. We can use the time given to us to reconnect with our spouse and children, to read our Bibles and keep our daily appointment with God. We can use the time given to us to grow our faith.

Do I wish this would all go away! In a heartbeat! But we can’t waste our time bemoaning the evil around us. Instead, we can choose to be thankful to God for the time He has given us and make the most of every opportunity to reflect His love to others and grow deep in Him!

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at pastor@herefordumc.org.

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