For those of you who know nothing about The Lord of the Rings, let me provide a bit of background. Denethor is the Steward of a kingdom called Gondor. The Steward rules in the king’s absence, though it has been many years since a king has sat on the throne. Bordering the land of Gondor is Mordor. It’s an evil land ruled by a really, really bad guy named Sauron who wants to take over the whole world and subject all the people to slavery.
It turns out that Denethor has a special item, a Palantir, that allows him to see places beyond his kingdom. He uses this to gain information about the movements of his enemy Sauron, for war is imminent. The only problem is that Sauron also has at least one of these “Seeing Stones”, these Palantir. And Sauron controls what Denethor sees. So Denethor sees the might of his enemy, how he has multitudes upon multitudes of his servants pressing in on seemingly every side. Denethor despairs and loses all hope and eventually commits suicide because he believes nothing can withstand their enemy, that they are all doomed.
Denethor only saw part of the picture. There were other factors at play which could have brought him hope. All was not lost. Eventually Sauron was defeated. But Denethor could not see those things. He only saw the darkness. His perspective was skewed.
I think sometimes my perspective is skewed. There is so much pain and suffering in this world, so many broken and hurting people. There are wars and bombings and abuse and injustice. We can do so much harm to each other. I begin to lose hope and despair. I can’t see the light and our capacity for good. That we can heal and mend and bless each other. That there is love in this world and that it is stronger than hate.
Somedays I am like Denethor and I feel overwhelmed by it all. But this perspective does not serve me well. If I dwell on the darkness, it feeds my despair. But if I dwell on the light and seek that which is good and beautiful in this world – though there is darkness – I will not despair. I can continue to have hope.