Hope, Despair, and Videogames.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

1 Corinthians 13: 13

So I recently had a kind of religious experience playing a videogame.

I’d been mulling over some thoughts for a while, so it wasn’t like it came completely out of the blue, but I’d like to think God speaks to us in all kinds of cool and unexpected ways. Anyway, I’ve waited to post about it for a while now; for some reason it didn’t feel like it was the right time, and then Vince’s sermon on Sunday happened to complement it very well.

So, back to the videogame.

***SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU PLAN ON PLAYING NI NO KUNI: WRATH OF THE WHITE WITCH, I’D ADVISE YOU STOP READING NOW! ***

Okay, so the protagonist in the game is Oliver, and basically he’s on a quest to save his mother. She dies after an accident, but a fairy shows up to Oliver and tells him there’s a possibility he can find her “soul-mate” in a parallel universe and bring her back.

Image

As Oliver goes on this fantasy adventure, he finds that there is an evil wizard set on destroying the parallel universe. This wizard’s motivation for destruction stems from his own despair: when he was younger, and a not-evil wizard, he was hoping to save many lives and make his world a better place, but when his plan backfires and he is banished, he loses all hope and embraces despair. This evil wizard decides the world is a terrible place, and it would be better if it didn’t exist at all, because that would eradicate all pain and suffering and unhappiness.

 Image

As it turns out, this evil wizard is Oliver’s “soul mate,” his parallel in this other world. And unfortunately, this means Oliver’s plan to save his mother is not going to work. Oliver has to make a choice: embrace despair, or embrace hope.

What I found very interesting in this game was that despair was the greatest source of evil. There were others (greed, lack of charity, apathy, etc.), but the ultimate villains of the game (including the titular White Witch) had embraced despair, and thereby wreaked havoc and misery on the world around them.

It’s easy to think despair and hopelessness are not as harmful as other sins. At least, that’s what it’s been like for me. Perhaps it’s because it often affects people on an individual basis, or maybe it’s less outwardly destructive; I didn’t see how my own feelings of despair or hopelessness really damaged anyone. But when it comes down to it, despair says a couple things:

“This world cannot be saved.”

“I don’t trust God.”

“There are some things that cannot be redeemed.”

“Some people will never change.”

“This life is nothing but suffering.”

And these things are all very destructive. This attitude and these statements are hurtful in the way I see others, the way I relate and talk to God, and the way I live my day-to-day existence.

But as Vince said in his sermon, hope is certain. As people of the resurrection, we are people of hope. Basically, I call God a liar when I say His world is headed to hell in a hand basket, or when I say we’re beyond help. God turned the fabric of the universe upside down because we are worth saving. I am worth saving, you are worth saving, this world is worth saving. And we can be saved.

And that should be integral to our identity. It should change the way we live. I may be skipping ahead and giving away more spoilers, but in 1 Peter 3:15, he writes:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

And that hope is our faith in Jesus Christ.

Without Jesus and without God, yes, the world can be hopeless. But we are not like those without hope, and we see a world that is already redeemed and reborn. We look forward to a time when all will be made new. We believe in Christ’s resurrection and his current reign and sovereignty above all else. But like belief, we need to practice this hopefulness by trusting God and choosing hope over despair.