Theology from The Princess Bride

Source: www.princessbrideforever.com

Source: princessbrideforever.com

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

I first heard that line from The Princess Bride when I was 15, watching the movie for the first time at summer camp. As a teenager it struck me as odd. I had not yet experienced life as pain and I questioned whether such an observation was really true.

I have seen the movie many times over the years and it has become one of my favorites. I no longer question that line, however. It is exactly right.

A good portion of our consumer economy is premised on the idea that pain can and should be avoided. We are bombarded with the message that medication, alcohol, food, cars, and a host of other products can remove the pain. We are bombarded with the message that the “winners” in life have no pain because they are successful and can acquire the right products to avoid ever having to feel pain. The “losers” in life, by contrast, are jacked up and out of luck.

This is a profound lie and we all know it, if we’ve lived long enough. Pain is integral to existence, it permeates our day to day to life and it can threaten to derail our lives if we are not careful. Jesus knows this better than most. He prayed that the cup of pain would pass from him – as we all do – but he also prayed that God’s will for his life would be done – as we all aspire to do.

Life is pain. So now what? Will we run from it, self-medicate it away, and try to shop it out of existence? Or will we follow Jesus in the path where he trusts the Father and relies entirely on the Spirit? As the Book of Common Prayer says:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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