We seem to need heroes—larger than life figures who come to the rescue in moments of peril. George Washington was America's first big celebrity and every portrait artist in America wanted to paint him. George got tired of posing so Jean-Antoine Houdon used a plaster cast to make a life mask to loan to painters. In my law office, I have a bust of General Washington's face made from that mask.
As a young kid, I grew up admiring OJ Simpson, the great running back. He was blessed with special talents, good looks, wealth, and fame. Then in 1994 he was arrested for the murder of his former wife Nicole and her friend. Prosecutor Gil Garcetti said it was, “the falling of an American hero.” It felt like that for me.
Walter Payton was possibly the best running back ever. He was only 5 feet 10 inches tall but fearlessly crashed into tacklers twice his size when he lacked room to evade them with his lightning speed. His nickname was “sweetness.” The NFL gives an award in his name every year for the most courageous player. After Walter died young from cancer, Jeff Pearlman wrote his biography which revealed numerous extramarital affairs and other indiscretions. In response, Fox Sports asked: “Can’t we just have one hero anymore?”
I've heard it said that you should never meet your heroes because they will likely disappoint you. When heroes disappoint us, it can feel devastating. Yet it seems like something in us needs heroes to emulate and admire. Heroes emerge because we need them. When tragedy strikes, like a depression or world war, we look to someone like President Franklin Roosevelt to inspire and give us hope. Yet during his time in office Roosevelt confined thousands of innocent Japanese Americans to relocation camps. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves. The truth is, all heroes are human and flawed just like the rest of us, except for One—Jesus.
In 1993, I lost a little brother to cancer. He was 17. His courage, faith, and willingness to accept what God wanted for him made him a hero to me. I even named my son after him. My brother once wrote to a friend: “Jesus is our hero.” I totally agree and unlike other heroes of mine, I really do want to meet Christ in person and have no fear of Him disappointing me in any way.
In Alma 7:11-12, we learn the depth of His love and sacrifice: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
We could not suffer these things for ourselves. When Alma really understood the enormity of his own sins, he exclaimed, “Oh. . . that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds” (Alma 36:16). In other words, Alma would rather cease to exist than to pay for his own sins. If we are honest, none of us is any different. This is why Jesus is our ultimate hero. He is the one person we can all have hope in without reservation.
For our featured podcast this week, we discuss with certified life coach Graciela Moore how to develop and maintain a perfect brightness of hope in Christ—especially during trying times. Enjoy listening with link below.
LILY Pod Episode 31: Brightness of Hope with Graciela Moore