At midnight on June 28th thousands of fans filtered into theaters to catch the first public screenings of Michael Bay’s third installment in the robots in disguise series with Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The director had a lot to prove: Despite raking in over four hundred million dollars in the United States alone, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was panned by critics and left many moviegoers scratching their heads at the film’s thin story.
Bay later admitted that the 2008 writer’s strike had a negative impact on production and promised that Dark of the Moon would deliver where the prior film had failed—with the story. This time around the story involves a secret plot by the evil Decepticons to activate a Decepticon army on the moon and invade earth. Fighting off their more powerful adversaries is a tall order for the heroic Autobots and their human counterparts, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), Carly Miller (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), and William Lennox (Josh Duhamel). And the situation becomes especially dire when the Decepticons decide to lay waste to the city of Chicago.
Of course, beating the odds is what heroes do. The hero who finds a creative way to escape a predicament is a staple of summer action-movie blockbusters. But we don’t live in movies. When we’re against the odds, we have no guarantee that everything will be resolved in tidy fashion and in a mere two hours’ time.
You probably aren’t facing a full-on invasion by hostile extraterrestrial, cybernetic organisms who want to re-create their war-torn planet on earth, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t ever feel over-scheduled, outnumbered, stressed out, or otherwise overwhelmed. Whether you face a growing stack of unfinished paperwork, a full calendar of activities, personal drama with friends, conflicts with family, health problems, or—most likely—a combination of these challenges and others, you probably know how it feels to be overwhelmed. The challenges before you may seem too big to overcome; stress and worry may prevent you from giving your full attention to the task at hand. At times it can be tempting to give up or buckle under the pressure. Fortunately, for those who are stressed out, overwhelmed, or up against unfavorable odds, we serve a God who can relate to us and who is always present with us.
Faith in the Darkness
God, who became fully human in the person of Jesus, understands what it’s like to be overwhelmed. And we can learn a great deal from Jesus’ example. When he was overwhelmed, he withdrew to spend time alone in prayer. (See Matthew 14:1-13 and 26:36-46.) He needed to connect with his heavenly Father and focus on God’s will.
When we are under pressure, we may feel as though time spent in prayer is time wasted. But often the best course of action is to retreat and spend time with God. Prayer puts things in perspective. Through prayer we receive guidance and comfort. We are able to focus on God’s will and set aside our worries and stresses. Psalm 23, perhaps the best-known psalm, is a prayer that puts things in perspective when we are overwhelmed by stress or the odds are against us. It reminds us of God’s presence, even in the “darkest valley” or when we’re surrounded by our enemies. It promises us that God will comfort us and lead us through the challenges that come our way.