My husband and I recently saw “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a charming movie about seven seniors from wildly different backstories, who choose to retire to what was billed as an exotic, upscale senior community in India.
It’s run by an idealistic young Indian man, long on vision and sales skill but short on business acumen. He dreams of turning a ramshackle old hotel into a place so beautiful the elderly will “refuse to die.” Of course, he has no money and the place is a mess.
Enter the seven seniors, looking for a fresh start after lives that didn’t turn out as they hoped.
There’s a widow whose husband never told her about the mountain of debt he incurred that left her penniless. There’s a cranky, prejudiced woman who lost a beloved job because of her age and has come to India for a cheap hip replacement. A retired respected judge, bored with his buttoned-down life, harbors a burdensome secret. Another man tries to be something he’s not. A female gold-digger is on the hunt for a rich husband. And there’s a couple, married 40 mostly miserable years–the husband soldiering on and the wife acting out her misery with endless bitterness.
In the hands of less capable actors, the story would be all cliche` and caricature. Instead, without using cinematic crutches like car chases, special effects, violence or gratuitous sex, they play out issues of disillusionment, disappointment, rejection, loss of purpose, rash judgments (by them toward others and vice versa), while looking for ways to numb their pain legally.
When they realize the hotel is not what they were promised, one of them yells at the young Indian, “I demand you take me to the hotel described in this brochure!”
We do the same thing with God sometimes. Haven’t you ever found yourself saying to God, “This isn’t what I signed on for! Take me to that place you promised, where everyone gets along and no one is sick and life is fair?”
In the movie, the Indian entrepreneur cheerfully tells his irate guest, “We have a saying in India: ‘Everything will be alright in the end. So, if everything is not yet alright, it is not yet the end!'”
Moviegoers may find his line a bit too cutesy. After all, when we suffer a betrayal, a job loss, a health setback, a wrong turn in life…and we make drastic changes to do something about it, only to have it blow up in our face…we’re not in the mood for bumper sticker wisdom.
But, as the story plays out, the characters begin to reach out to help each other, they face their pain, make new choices, and learn they’re stronger than they thought. They don’t end up where they expected but they are happier and better off as a result of all that has happened.
It’s not that different for those of us living the life of faith. There is much we need to learn about how to handle life’s tough times. But we don’t learn much if life is easy (which, by the way, was never promised). Rather, God uses every difficult minute and circumstance between now and when we die to grow us, because he already knows how the story ends and it’s all good.
So, if everything is not yet alright, it is not yet the end.
Is your heart too heavy to feel hopeful at the moment? Click on these links for encouragement. The music is contemporary but the words reflect truths straight from the Bible. Mercy Me challenges us to “Hold Fast” because help is on the way. And Faith Hill reminds us, “There Will Come a Day” when heartache will be a distant memory. He promised.
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“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this
world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV