It’s a Wonderful Lifeis one of the most iconic Christmas movies and without a doubt, my absolute favorite. There’s a reason this film has held its own for over 75 years. For anyone who’s ever struggled with depression, disillusionment, rejection, failure, or hopelessness… this movie is sheer medicine for the soul. The film stars the actor Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who gave up his dreams to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence. Throughout the story, Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different his community of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born. This is truly a tale of God’s sovereignty, amazing grace, divine purpose, and yes, a wonderful life.
Although I’ve watched this film every year since childhood, it wasn’t until I was in my early-thirties and struggling with heartbreak, unmet desire, and despair that I fell in love with this film. I finally understood George Bailey’s angst with unrealized dreams and an uncertain future. It was during those three years that my own faith was severely tested. I endured a time of intense spiritual warfare in which I believed all sorts of lies from the enemy about my life, purpose, and destiny. And for the first time, I could relate to a man struggling against the darkness and asking God, “why?”
A pivotal scene of this movie occurs when George stands on the edge of a bridge contemplating suicide in a bitter winter storm. At this point, his guardian angel Clarence steps in and gives George the gift of perspective. Knowing that George was contemplating suicide, Clarence gives George the ability to see how the world would have been without him in it. Through the scenes that follow, George Bailey is allowed to see the impact his life has been on others and why the seemingly coincidental circumstances and setbacks of his life added up to one wonderful life.
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Clarence, the angel
The most moving scene is when George Bailey finally grasps the wonder of it all and races through the small town of Bedford Falls screaming, “Merry Christmas!” George’s eyes were open, and he finally grasped how the sovereign hand of a loving God had been at work in all of the details of his life to write one beautiful story. Redemption.
When I met my husband, Justin, I discovered that we both shared a love for this old classic film. Justin had also walked through a dark period in his life before our marriage and could resonate with the hope and eternal perspective this movie offers. It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us that God is sovereign, each life is precious, each person has a divine purpose, and the grand story that we all play a part in is still unfolding.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, I pray we pause to understand Jesus’ eternal mission. He came that each of us would experience a wonderful life. This life begins with knowing Him and in walking with Him in a relationship.
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
We were created for an eternal, abundant, and wonderful life, but, we must be aware that there is a battle raging over each of us. Just as George Bailey fought fears, despair, and dark voices that spoke failure and shame, you and I battle the same enemy who wants to steal from us the wonderful life that God desires for us.
Yes, dear friends, there is an enemy at play who wants nothing more than for each of us to live in darkness, depression, and the devastation of sinful choices. But, take heart, Jesus defeated our foe on the cross, and the message of Christmas is that the Light of the World has won!
When we place our faith in Jesus, we are given access into the abundant life God offers. Sure, we will endure tests and trials in this life, but we overcome knowing that we are part of the Greatest Story and our sovereign God is leading and guiding our lives in such a way that we fulfill the purpose for which He created us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
During my own bleak season, when I battled the enemy who wanted to steal, kill and destroy me, I came to realize that beauty of trusting Jesus with my questions and fears because He is both sovereign and working all things for my good and His glory. Walking by faith and trusting in God’s goodness has given me the ability to know in every season and in the midst of every battle, this is a wonderful life!