Ripping Off the Mask


I take pleasure in the unmasking of the beast when Belle’s tenderness transforms him. He can love and be loved, thus breaking the curse he has lived with for years. I confess to being a romantic at heart. A happy ending seems controlled, the way I wish life were.In a much darker play, the disfigured phantom terrorizes those who do not submit to him. He appears and vanishes into mists unexpected, unsought.

One of the harshest elements of grief or suffering is that the precipitating event unexpectedly rips off the mask that says we have control.

Yes, Christians know God is sovereign, that He has absolute control. But in the trenches, the traumatic moments that may stretch on and on, there’s the stark reality screaming. Not only are we not in control, but we find ourselves needy and helpless. Tragedy unveils or unmasks the truth. And it’s uglier than we imagined.

Mark 9 recounts the story of a desperate father, a parent whose mask was torn off by years of his son’s self-destructive behavior. Listen to the father’s desperation.

And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9: 21-24

When life tears away my mask of imagined control, I find solace alongside the father in Mark 9. In humility, I too say, “Lord, I believe. Help my I believe.”

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