At my hands the lives of many video game characters tend to suffer – and depending on the video game, they tend to suffer a lot! They suffer pain and death. When I am fighting a strong villain, through me they will eventually find victory, but the journey to said victory is not without many, many bruises (metaphorically speaking); and this includes to my ego; (but that is a discussion best left for another time.) However, my admittedly incompetence at some video games is not the only way video game characters may suffer at my hand. They also suffer as a result of my desires. To give an example, I had just finished my third playthrough of Until Dawn, the story-driven horror game that relies on wit, reflexes and a photographic memory of the controls; otherwise, up to seven of your characters will lose their lives in the most brutal and bloodiest of fashions. Until Dawn is about eight friends who go to a winter lodge, high up in the snowy peaks of the Canadian Rockies, for what was supposed to be a great time of fellowship; but it turned into a weekend nightmare. Be sure to play this game to see what this nightmare was all about.
There was a scene at the beginning of the game when Sam, one of the young ladies, had just arrived. She was cold and tired; she just wanted to take a hot bath so her relaxing weekend could begin. However, the host of the party, Josh, had a major oversight – he didn’t turn on the hot water before the guests arrived! So I, as the player, had to control Sam’s journey in finding where Josh was so she could pester him to turn on the hot water. However, as stated, this was my third playthrough. I knew the story and I knew that there was more to the story of Until Dawn than merely finding the facts that surrounded the horrifying mystery that befell these eight young people and ensuring that they all survive until dawn, (hence the name of the game, Until Dawn). There are three mysteries to solve in total. Sam wanted to have a bath, but I wanted to solve all three mysteries. In order to do this, I, as the player, had to search every nook and cranny of the entire world the game was set in to find these clues. So I moved Sam around every hallway of the upstairs of that house. I got her to search every table, look at every picture, check every corner of that house for any clues to any of the three mysteries. This must have taken me 20 minutes, instead of the one minute that it would have taken me to bring her directly downstairs to Josh to enact the next scene in the plot line. In the game, the player gets to control all eight characters and I treated every one of them like this. All of my characters got the really slow and methodological scenic tour around this cold, dark and deadly world. Uncovering the clues to the mysteries aided me in ensuring that all eight people would have survived the night. I slowly guided these characters around this dark and dangerous world so I could collect as much information to save their pixelated lives at the end of the game. If they were sentient beings, I’m sure they’d be hating me because they were suffering more than what they thought was necessary; but it was all for them! Their comfort and desires came second to their survival.
We’ve all had the experience of having to be in places in life where we didn’t want to be, at one time or another. Thanks to me, my characters in Until Dawn often found themselves far away from where they wanted to be more often then than not. If they were sentient beings I’m sure they’d be wondering why they were there and not where they wanted to be, such as inside safe and sound. Many people find themselves in areas of life and they don’t understand why they are there. Sometimes these times are seasons of tragedy. Other times it is seemingly dead-ends to life, where life seems to have presented a seemingly dead-end cul-de-sac. “I aspired to be a missionary – preaching the Gospel of Jesus to people in Africa,” a Christian may confess, but grudgingly state, “but, alas, I’m here; stuck in this dead-end, desk job, with co-workers who whine whenever I claim anything to be factual and not merely my opinion.” From a more secular perspective, we all have had dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up: a doctor, a lawyer, a cowboy, or ballerina, etc. but for some or even many of us, it wasn’t to be. Instead of being a doctor pulling in $200,000 a year, we wait on tables at a restaurant for a salary that is a mere few dollars higher than minimum wage.
Narrowing down my focus to Christians, many of us have had aspirations to being something great for God. Many of us may look at the world-renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, or the famous apologist, Ravi Zacharias, and see their lives traveling around the world preaching and teaching, and aspire for a similar life. Many Christian’s hearts break for certain people-groups, such as children, and wish to be in ministry with that group, e.g. children’s ministry. However, for some of us, our ministry is, at most, a voluntary position at our local church. We teach Sunday school or we serve in a weeknight children’s ministry, like AWANA. However, for some of us, during the rest of the week we do something that perhaps we enjoy, but it isn’t what we want to see ourselves doing. We may ask ourselves why God doesn’t open the doors to the rooms that we’ve desperately sought for serving Him in?
As stated, and again let’s pretend that my characters in Until Dawn were sentient beings, my characters didn’t know why they were being led around the world so slowly, instead of the alternative, which would be getting quickly out of harm’s way and into a safe space. As Christians, who are indeed sentient beings, we may ask: “God, why are you leading me down this path?” The answer to this is complicated, but a good philosophy to consider would be:
[We] know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
We can “know” that God has plans for those who love Him, and that no matter what situation we are in right now, be it grief due to a tragedy or hopelessness for a possible successful and happy life, God will turn this situation for something good. God won’t promise that you’ll get that dream life, nor that your life will be free of tragedy; but He does give guidance in how to love Him:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
We are to love God first and foremost! (Matthew 22:37) You may think it strange that God is bringing you around to this area or that area of life. It may be strange, but it is not without reason! I’ll conclude with a possible reason to consider: to help you. Just as my character’s survival superseded their comfort, ensuring that you be the creation that God designed you to be, namely in the image of Christ, (Romans 8:29) is His first importance; it supersedes your comfort and happiness.