The Show Must Go On

Next week, I’m going to see Hamilton. The Tony Award-winning play has sold out theaters since it premiered on Broadway in January 2015. When it came to Denver, the waitlist for tickets had over 200,000 names on it. Suffice to say, I’m a little excited for next week’s show.

I like going to the theater. Sometimes, the simple messages that musicals impart penetrate our psyche when sung instead of spoken. Andrew Lloyd Weber brought to Broadway the story of Christ’s crucifixion in Jesus Christ Superstarand the old testament tale of Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Wicked gave audiences a message of accepting yourself with a musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz (a musical itself which taught us “there’s no place like home.”) Rent points out that a year is 525,600 minutes long, but that the love you share is what makes time special. New musicals like Dear Evan Hansen explore themes of depression and suicide with messages that we are never alone. Even the new Mary Poppins film sings out wisdom like “a cover is not the book” and those loved ones we lose are never really gone, just hidden “where the lost things go.”

My favorite song in Hamilton (and I have many—if I could rap, I could probably sing the whole soundtrack) is “Wait for It.” In the song, Aaron Burr, the antihero of the show who is frequently annoyed by the title character’s passionate outbursts, sings about the things in life that have shaped him. He questions why he fell in love with a married woman. He questions why he was orphaned at a young age. He questions why he isn’t as liked or successful as Hamilton. And despite the pains and tragedies he’s been through, he acknowledges that if there is a greater plan to all of it, he’s “willing to wait for it.”

The chorus of wait for it: “Life doesn't discriminate/Between the sinners and the saints/It takes and it takes and it takes./And we keep living anyway/We rise and we fall and we break/We fall and we make our mistakes./And if there's a reason I'm still alive/When so many have died/Then I'm willin' to-/Wait for it...”

I empathize with Burr. Life doesn’t always make sense. Love doesn’t make sense. Death doesn’t make sense. Pain doesn’t make sense. And, as the song says, “if there’s a reason,” I don’t know that I get it.

But perhaps this is what Paul meant in his letter to the Romans. In Romans 8:22-25 Paul writes, “We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth. The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.”

Our faith is filled with promises. Promises of forgiveness. Promises of new beginnings. Promises of eternal life. Promises of things we can’t even imagine. And Paul tells us that sit in community, in this life that doesn’t make sense, with the pain and confusion of this world, and we await the fulfilment of the promises. Our faith gives us things to hope for, and this hope is what keeps us going.

And in the meantime, while we wait, the show must go on. We have to love. We have to lose. We have to go through the joys and the pains, the mountains and valleys, the highs and the lows. Because these are the moments that make life worth living. And in a world that doesn’t always make sense, Paul gives us the secret to hope in verse 28 by saying, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Zach Herzog

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