The classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, tells the story of George Bailey, a man who dreams of leaving the little town of Bedford Falls to land an exciting, high-paying job. Through events outside of his control, George reluctantly stays in town to run his father’s small business. In the process, he saves his brother’s life, keeps the pharmacist from poisoning a woman, saves the town from an unscrupulous miser, and more. Yet, George still says, “I wish I’d never been born!” Do we sometimes regret the story God placed us in?
Consider the life of Jonathan, the son of King Saul, in 1 Samuel. Despite being in the royal family and perhaps next in line to be king, after watching David slay Goliath, Jonathan doesn’t become jealous, but he and David become best friends. “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (18:4) Jonathan could have easily been consumed with envy over David’s success, but instead, he helps and protects David. As King Saul begins to demand David’s life, Jonathan intervenes, explaining to his father, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.” (19:4) Another time, Jonathan stood up for David, risking his own life, asking, “‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him.” (20:32-33)
Ultimately, David establishes a kingdom over all of Israel while Jonathan dies at the hand of the Philistines, as told in chapter 31. Jonathan never worked to suppress David’s rise to power, but lifted up his friend. Jonathan and George Bailey both could’ve chased their own glory, but they sought to bless others. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Often times the material blessings we give come back to us as spiritual blessings, which are far more valuable, for Jesus said, “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20) Jonathan and George Bailey didn’t experience wealth and success on earth, but in another life.
“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” (1 Corinthians 7:17) From time to time, we all get frustrated with the life story we’ve been placed into, but the life of George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life shows that God, all-wise and all-powerful, purposely plants us in complicated stories which require our unique gifts and abilities.