In life, all of us take our turns trying to answer difficult questions. Deep questions like, “How can a good God allow pain and suffering?” Or some far less weighty but born out of true frustration like, “Why on earth is it necessary for English to have so many verb forms?” And then there’s this real stumper for me: “What is it about the Les Miserables story that you love so much?”
I find it nearly impossible to sum up my love for this story in one sentence. Maybe it’s because there’s so much to love – John Valjean’s heart breaking open through the love of young Cosette, the old priest’s act of grace which preserved Valjean’s very life, the renewal of Fantine in her final days. Creating a succinct response to “Why do you like it so much” is no easy task.
I think it’s a nearly impossible question to answer because of the power of the theme woven throughout.
Which theme, you ask? Redemption.
A longing for redemption has been written into our very DNA. We need it inside of us, we need it in our friends, we need it in our relationships, we need it in our world. It’s something so very close to the fabric of my heart that when a story leans heavily into this, it’s hard to explain why it moves me so deeply.
We were made to be redeemed.
An old Bible prof of mine used to say that when he would meet a newborn baby, rather than the typical “oh look at how sweet he is!” his response was, “look at that little sinner.” It was shocking, unnerving, and always brought a ripple of nervous laughter to the room. But it’s true.
We’re all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, bringing brokenness into our very first breath. But we also bring with us a craving to be redeemed. And we’re striving and running and searching and drinking and shopping and talking and wandering and trying and trying and trying to find ways to assuage the ache. Like Javert, some turn to the law, to justice, to prove that we can redeem ourselves. Like Thenardier, some turn to pleasure and cheating and swindling our way into the life we think we want and need.
As I look around me in my host country, I see a people being driven by a longing they don’t even seem to be aware is there. And if I’m honest, sometimes a deep look inside of me reveals a heart that is working overtime to take the craving into my own hands and cover up some newly revealed brokenness through my own means. But this longing for redemption is not to make us strive, it is a sweet invitation from the one who can redeem.
Come, He’s saying. Come, and I’ll continue doing my work of making all things new. When singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson imagined that first moment of Jesus coming to life in that tomb, he penned this line: “The blood that brought us peace with God is racing through his veins.” Oh, how I love that line. That very blood spilled on Calvary, that blood is pumping through a living body. Resurrection Sunday put Good Friday’s blood back into a living, beating heart – the blood is continually oxygenated, renewed, limitless. Redemption is living and breathing. It’s alive. It’s freely given. All the areas in our lives that continually need redemption are not using up the supply. The great Redeemer just keeps redeeming.
So no matter where you are today, let his call lead you back to Him. Celebrate how he has already made you new. Let him continue to redeem the areas of your heart that need it. Let him remind you that his blood is enough to redeem the mess around you.
It really is the best news we could ask for.
How have you experienced redemption being alive in this season of your life?
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