A friend and I were talking recently about trends in entertainment and I brought up the idea of broken heroes. When I was a kid, I remember idolizing characters on the big and small screens. I played Wonder Woman and Princess Leia on a pretty regular basis. These were people I wanted to emulate because they nearly always saved the day. Even the highly tortured and abused Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap (yup, I’m a Leaper!) who was thrust into the heroic spotlight, still managed to push all of that aside and do what needed to be done.
In recent years though, a lot of time has been spent covering the crucible in the lives of these heroes. You know, that hot burning fire that scorches and burns across our souls to bring us out stronger on the other side? The one that usually creates super heroes.
The third Iron Man film highlights this idea heavily. Tony Stark is put through the proverbial (and in some instances literal) fire and everything around him is stripped away. The question is: What comes out on the other side?
In the Christian life, we recognize this as the refiner’s fire – cleansing us of all impurities. Isaiah 48:10 talks about this process plainly:
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
Proverbs 17:3 also talks about how the crucible is for gold and silver, but the Lord tests our hearts.
It’s not a fun place to be – in that fire. I’ve been there. More often than I’d like. Much like Stark in this film, you could be on your own, not sure what direction to go, and with all of the things you rely on stripped away. Where do you go now?
This is that critical moment where you are at a crossroads and myriad things can come of the choices you make.
At this point, you can choose to turn away from God or you can focus on Him and see where He takes you. It’s a terribly painful process but He’s burning out the other things that will take you away from Him and His plan.
In the movie, Tony Stark had to search deep and he was forced to find new things to rely on – things that can’t be taken away. Looking for a spiritual message in this one? That’s it. When the things of this world are lost to you, as a believer, you have something that no one else can take away. No matter how hot that fire might get, God won’t ever turn his back on you. He’ll always take you through the fire.