Jackson Stone’s journey throughout the movie “Jackson’s Run” is mined with potentially rich subject matter. A teen bent on self-destructing at the movie’s beginning, he is doing all the wrong things with all the wrong people and shutting out his mother and younger brother in the process. But Jackson is more than a “typical” delinquent: His own behavior at the age of 13 led to a near-death overdose and left him with HIV. As “Jackson’s Run” opens, the virus inside of him, like the outer, negative influences in his life, are catching fire and threaten to burn out of control. Others in his world are experiencing their own life crises, too, and as they and Jackson try to find sense, strength, meaning and faith, the “Run” twists and turns and travels a difficult road.
Such a story, about a teenager infected with HIV, is a powerful one by itself. There is all too little said in the news and other media about the young lives who have been derailed by HIV and AIDS, and this movie does highlight the importance of compassion and care for this little-understood population. It also shines a faith-based light on this (and other) issues facing teens and adults alike, encouraging conversation, self-examination and journaling, and standing up to evil in many earthly forms.
But “Jackson’s Run” has other thematic story-lines, too, that involve Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, bullying, and, suicide. It’s a heavy line-up, and one that, unfortunately, does not have nearly enough time to fully realize itself. Although truly and well-acted, especially in moments where the dialogue stops and the characters are allowed to breathe, 85 minutes just isn’t enough for this story…which is why it is a perfect subject for this blog’s “Food for Thought” column.
On the surface, “Jackson’s Run” can be seen as a superficial treatment of extremely complex and difficult problems. But, one of the best elements of the film is how it showed that, for every wrong act committed, there are consequences – and we live with those consequences everyday. Christ’s sacrifice and our Salvation, then, become all the more precious. And all the more poignant, as our earthly lives continue to unfold. By loading the film with so many dark issues (and dark scenes – the lighting was an issue itself in a few spots, with disconcerting shadows and abrupt changes in film quality!), it made me very grateful for the light, the love of Christ, and the way that people can find a way back from blistering, winding, and awful runs of their own.
“Jackson’s Run” is not a perfect film. The dialogue could have been more intuitive, the storytelling more focused and, thus, made deeper, and the ending felt too-quickly and too-neatly tied up. But we, too, are not perfect, are we? And even so, as with the world of “Jackson’s Run,” we have much to learn and tell.
Blessings for the day,
How long is your prayer list? Mine is lines long, full of requests from individuals, from my heart, and for the world around. Issues crop up every day and, yup, they get added to the list.
Do you feel as if you can do justice to all of the prayer requests on your plate? Does it ever get to be too much? Too many?
I find great comfort in knowing that, even before I pray for someone or something, God knows my prayer and, even more, responds. Maybe I don’t hear His response immediately (or maybe I’m too busy praying to hear Him at first). But, yes, He knows. So, even if I forget someone or something, or even if my list is so long that I cannot spend “quality” time praying over one request, He’s my back-up and my go-to!
I would never discourage someone from asking me to pray for them. And, I don’t cut down my list or limit it to so many people or issues. But, I do understand that I have finite time and energy, some days more finite than others.
No worries, though! God is infinite – and He is eternally present!
Joy and peace,
and my groans well forth like water;
For what I fear overtakes me,
and what I shrink from comes upon me.
I have no peace nor ease;
I have no rest, for trouble comes!
Then spoke Eliphaz the Temanite, who said [to Job]:
If someone attempts a word with you, will you mind?
For how can anyone refrain from speaking?
Behold, you have instructed many, and have made firm their feeble hands.
Your words have upheld the stumbler;
you have strengthened his faltering knees.
But now that it comes to you, you are impatient;
when it touches yourself, you are dismayed.
Is not your piety a source of confidence,
and your integrity of life your hope?
Job 3:24-26; 4:2-6 (New American Bible)
Oh, wow, the book of Job has so much for those of us who have faith and live with chronic pain and illness!
In this particular passage, Job is expressing his pain in very vivid prose while his friends sit by and listen. Finally, one friend, Eliphaz the Temanite, speaks up, but his words are not exactly comforting. Rather, he challenges Job about how Job was such a “pillar of faith” previously, holding others up when they stumbled, and yet now that the pain is Job’s and not someone else’s, it seems as if Job’s faith has left him and complaining is, instead, rooted in.
Haven’t there been times when you and I have been hesitant to decry our pain or illnesses because we’re afraid people will think we’re not relying on faith? That we’re, instead, rejecting our lives, our health conditions? That we’re not “accepting in silence” our suffering?
Hmm…I have to say I beg to difer.
There really is nothing wrong with saying “I hurt,” nor is there anything wrong with describing our suffering so that others will understand. Just because we do this does not mean we are not being “strong” or “faithful.”
However, the other part of this portion of Job has another lesson, too. That is, if we complain and complain and do not let others extend compassion and care, we are not allowing Christ to be active through them to us. We are rejecting the ability of others to bring care – Yes, if we don’t let others “in,” we’ll never be able to see ourselves lifted “out” of our suffering!
Yes, it’s all right to complain. We needn’t feel guilty about that. But we also need to let God work, to be still so that we hear the voices of caring friends and family – and the voice of God.
Blessings for the day,
P.S. for more on Job, you might like my book, “Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy,” available through online booksellers and relgious bookstores.
Each time a Jewish holiday arrives, I think about centuries ago, in Jesus’ day, when Our Lord also observed these holy days. Sometimes, we Christians forget that Jesus was actively Jewish, that he lived for nearly 30 years with Mary and Joseph in an observant Jewish household, and that his faith was lived out daily there and with them. Remembering this brings up a wellspring of respect for the people who still, today, observe these holy days.
Peace, comfort, goodness, and light are wonderful blessings for anyone upon whom they rest. And today, I wish these things for all observing Rosh Hashanah, a New Year.