October 20th, 2020

Ingredients of great stories


By Submitted Article on November 23, 2019.

Yearning

Third of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

I know what intense yearning is. My first job was 1,000 kilometres from my fiancŽ. For two years we saw each other only once in two months. It was before Skype and texting.

Years later, when we were married and scouted Canada for immigration, we were separated three times for two months at a time. Over the past nine years, dementia and eventually death separated us for good. Now, I yearn for our reunion.

Yearning for loved ones over distance is bad enough. Yearning for loved ones who are physically near but emotionally far is even worse. Much counselling is devoted to healing wounds of hurting love.

Relationships based on lust usually do not last long. Sometimes, people try to increase the lust ad nauseam. Some popular thrillers and soap-operas show easy sex with anyone who consents.

I have a few cabinets full of movies. The ones that show the awakening of tender, romantic love can be counted on one hand. Of course, to create tension and drawing the viewer into the story, true love is put to the test by hardships, but tender love usually prevails.

Maybe filmmakers believe viewers are not interested in true-love stories. And yet, those movies that portrayed deep and tender love had a much longer lifetime than the superficial ones.

Other great movies of the past, that are still a pleasure to watch, are those in which the underdog – through tests and struggles – becomes the top-dog. It inspires and encourages us to keep doing our best while trusting God. Then the stone rejected by the builders becomes the cornerstone.

The theme of victorious victims makes the stories of Joseph, Moses, David and Jesus moving and inspiring forever.

All the impressive computer-animated violence in today’s shows cannot match the endearing and enduring influence of stories with tender love and prevailing courage.

The story of Ben Hur, created by Lew Wallace in 1880, has seen several productions in cinema and theatre and still inspires. The subjugation of Judea by Rome is personified by Judah Ben Hur, the Jewish prince, made a galley slave by Messala, his former friend who has become a merciless Roman commander. Judah’s mother and sister are innocently imprisoned.

While straining at the oar in a Roman warship, Judah Ben Hur prays for a break and gets it after three years of hardship. In a battle at sea, he rescues the life of a Roman consul, who adopts him as his son. He becomes a champion charioteer at the Circus in Rome.

Eventually, Judah Ben Hur returns to Judea to confront Messala for the injustice done to him and his family. His love for Esther is rekindled by the young rabbi of Nazareth.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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