Warning: Infinity War Spoilers Below.
Normally when a big blockbuster movie starts rolling credits on opening nights, it does so to the clapping and cheers of the biggest fans. That was not the case for Avengers: Infinity War. By and large the movie has been well received by its fans, but the reaction to the gut punch of an ending is not cheering, it is stunned silence. It is uncommon in stories for the heroes to lose, and it is extremely rare for that loss to result in half of them to being erased from existence.
Just what happens next will not be revealed until Avengers 4, but one thing is for certain: the good guys win. This is not just playing the odds, because nine times out ten in stories the good guys win. In Infinity War, Dr. Strange makes it clear the good guys will win. I am not privy to the script of the upcoming movie, so this is delving a bit into fan theory territory. Yet, the foreshadowing here does seem particularly strong. There is a scene in the movie where Dr. Strange uses the time stone to look at all of the possible futures to see how the events play out. After he does this, Tony Stark asks Dr. Strange in how many of the million plus timelines he peered into they won, and the doctor replies one. It clearly seems that Dr. Strange’s knowledge of the future is what guides his actions. Later on when confronting Thanos, he gives up the time stone to save Tony Stark. He does so without hesitation, because he knows that Iron Man is needed for the winning future. Even after Thanos succeeds, and Dr. Strange is fading out of existence he does so with complete calm and assurance. This is because he has seen the future, and he knows that this is all part of the plan. Dr. Strange might be a master of the mystical arts, but he is displaying some downright Christian qualities. Assurance in the face of uncertainty, peace while surrounded by chaos, and hope triumphing over fear should be marks of a Christian faith.
Thankfully, none of us have to deal with trials and tribulations as large in scope as an infinity gauntlet wielded by a purple alien. However, we all have times of uncertainty, times of chaos, and times of darkness. We go through time that the twenty third psalm famously calls the valley of the shadow of death. During those times, we can resist panic and we can keep the calm that Dr. Strange displays. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” Paul could make these bold claims because as he goes on to state in verse 17: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
When life is full of uncertainty and chaos we can still know that God is still with us. When everything seems to be falling apart, we can stand fast knowing that God will remain faithful. Even if the worst turns out to be more horrible than our worst case scenario we can find peace because we know that there is nothing on heaven or earth that can ever separate us from the love of God. In times of trouble we can have infinite hope because we have the assurance that God is God we are God’s people.
As Christians we can and we should have the same assurance that Dr. Strange shows in Infinity War, but the movie is also a lesson to us that the trip through the valley is not always easy. Dr. Strange seemed knew the path they were on was the reality that led to the good guys winning, but that does not mean it was an easy path. In much the same way, following God is not the promise of ease and comfort. We can have an unconquerable assurance that God will see us through but that does not mean we will avoid hardships and tribulations along the way. There will be times we face big obstacles and there will be times like the Avengers where we do not win. Even in those times when we endure the storms of life, we can know that best of all God is still with us.
During those difficult times in life, we can and we should pray. We should also seek to continue living as faithful disciples. We should face the trials and tribulations with wisdom, courage, conviction, and patience. We should not despair or give into self-defeating cynicism, but we should take it in stride because we know that no matter what the outcome, no matter how big the struggle God is with us.
This is the example that has been given by Christians throughout history, and it is the one we should still follow today. We do not face a mad titan with infinite power, but we do face our infinitely big feeling problems. With whatever storm you are facing in your life, may you find hope in Christ. With whatever problem you are facing, may you have an assurance that the Lord is with you. May you keep and may you display to the world just what an infinite hope looks like.