Last Fall, the creator and the face of Marvel Comics Stan Lee passed away. Plenty of publications have already made a big deal about his comics, yet for me, I kept thinking about his impact. Most especially the influence his X-Men comics had on my life and in history.
For example, Nightcrawler has been one of Marvel Comics’ most unique and complex superheroes since 1975. For those outside the X-Men fan base, the series revolves around a cast of characters that have some form of genetic mutation that manifests itself through extraordinary abilities.
They have names such as Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Rogue.
Wolverine has metal claws, Nightcrawler can disappear and reappear in any place he wants, and on the list would go for multiple characters. As you would expect, they are treated as freaks and ostracized from society. The storyline revolves around the struggle between humans and mutants and the need to fight prejudice, suspicion, and hate when dealing with people who may be different.
All of this in mind, the X-men are given powers. Some of them use their powers for good. Others, such as Wolverine long for the days that their powers will no longer be needed.
Wolverine never seems to find joy in the moment. Why? He uses his powers for good, but he doesn’t know how to save the world in a way that he no longer needs his powers. I believe this is the dilemma people face in their own life. We want peace, yet sometimes we never see peace at all. In-laws fight, tensions escalate at work, the house gets lonely. Is there any hope?
Most commentators agree that the Psalms belong to King David. Far from perfect, like Stan Lee’s X-Men, David has authority to bring about Yahweh’s Kingdom, but the Psalms indicate that doing so was a haunting task.
David faces the same drama that Wolverine faces, when he writes “How long will you turn my glory into shame?” Psalm 4:2.
However, David’s mood changes when all his focus is on the Lord. One almost senses the relief when he writes:
“At your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11
David found faith not in asking when his troubles will end, but also in the moment that God was with Him. Can we, can I find joy not only in the future when God will get His way, but also in the moment when He is with us?
For Wolverine, he never seems to find the answer, save one. In the X-men cartoon series from the 90’s, Wolverine is given a bible by Nightcrawler in an episode with the same name (Nightcrawler 1995).
“How can I love a God who gave me these powers that I will never lose?” Wolverine laments.
Even so, by the end of the episode, Wolverine finds hope not in a future answer, but in the moment. As Wolverine goes to a French chapel, he prays; Turns to Isaiah 12:1-2 and reads quietly… saying: “I give thanks to you, Lord. Though you were angry with me, your anger turned away and you comforted me. I will trust, and not be afraid.”
Focused on Jesus, the poet’s words are finally true: “Hope springs eternal.”
John Thomas is Senior Pastor of Carol Springs United Methodist Church in Athens, Texas, a short drive from Tyler.
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