Recently I watched the movie Collateral Beauty, starring Will Smith as a man dealing with the death of his young daughter. Two years have elapsed and Smith’s character Howard Inlet is still not coping very well, his marriage is over and he is reduced to writing hate mail to Time, Death and Love.
As Howard explains right at the beginning of the movie, “Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love. We wish we had more time. And we fear death.”
His three neglected best friends, who are also his worried business associates, decide to intervene by hiring actors to play the three concepts, in order to try to jolt Howard out of his depression.
Keira Knightly, who plays Love, says at one point “I’m love and I’m the fabric of life… Love is the reason for everything. I’m the why. Don’t try to live without me.”
Jacob Latimore’s character tells Howard, “I’m Time. You wrote to me because you need me. I’m a gift and you’re wasting it.”
And Death, who turns out to be an elderly white woman – Helen Mirran – argues, “Death is so much more vital than time. Death gives time its value.” And later “Nothing’s ever really dead if you look at it right.”
The movie was very thought provoking and got me thinking about what I would say to these entities if I could address them. Then I realised that, as a Christian, I can and do address Love every single day because God is Love – He is indeed the “why”, and the “reason for everything”.
And knowing God, who is Love, makes sense of Death, which has been overcome and defeated by Jesus’ rising from the dead. That supernatural act means that my loved ones truly aren’t “really dead” if they have died believing in Christ, because their souls go on to live eternally in a reality as real as our own. Death is no longer an end to fear but a portal, an adventure and a release from the pain and tragedy of this life.
Knowing God also makes sense of Time, as a temporary construct which we have to live within in this world, but which God is outside of and in control of. He determines my beginning and my end, my times are in His hands as Psalm 31:15 says. Time is indeed a gift, but not a treadmill that tires us out and makes increasing demands on us, but a bunch of fragrant flowers that we can enjoy and share with others.
So, if you, as Howard says “long for love, wish you had more time and fear death”, God, Love Himself, is right there, longing for you and waiting for you to turn to Him. He will make your time purposeful and fulfilling, and replace your fear of death with a longing for eternity. As happens in the movie, you may just find that reality is surprisingly different from what you first believed.