Lately, I have seen several people on Facebook sharing a quote from Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series expressing regret for living in, “such a time as this”.
“I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Of course, this is about the impact on our lives from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just like many Facebook memes; this one is taken out of context. The obvious context of the statement itself is a gentle exhortation to evaluate how you respond to the world you live in. Which in itself is a decent exhortation.
But, the overall context of the conversation that Gandalf and Frodo were having was much deeper and dealt with the destiny of Smeagol/Gollum and the Fellowship of the Ring. In the greater context, Frodo expresses the desire that Bibo had killed Gollum when he had the chance.
“It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when had the chance.”
“Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live, deserve death and many that die, deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play, yet for good or ill…. before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”
Then Gandalf gets to the core of the message he is attempting to explain to Frodo.
“There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you also were meant to have it and that is an encouraging thought.”
Gandalf wants to turn Frodo’s negative thoughts about how life seemed to be going towards a greater theme that was working its way into Frodo’s destiny. He turns Frodo’s attention to the fact that Bilbo was supposed to find the ring and therefore Frodo was also supposed to be exactly where he was. Directly in God’s plan for the Fellowship. In other words, God has confidence in Frodo and the Fellowship to accomplish their mission.
This is also an encouraging message that Tolkein is trying to get across to all of us. God’s plan is perfect in itself. Both in timing and intention. Even when it seems that everything is out of control. God is still in control and walking with us through our own epic journey through the storm.
So instead of leaving you thinking that dealing with the pandemic is all up to you and how you deal with this situation – emotionally and physically – Gandalf – and Tolkein – is pointing to the fact that God’s plan for Bilbo and Frodo, is the same plan He has for us. And, for us in the “Non-Fiction” world, Jeremiah 29:11 describes what Tolkein was trying to teach Frodo.
“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Finally, be encouraged by this, that you are not alone in the midst of all of this uncertainty.