A Tiny Message
By Anthony Casperson
Earlier this week, I heard a podcaster mention that he felt The Muppet Christmas Carol was the best version of the story. I happen to agree. Not that it’s the most faithful adaptation. I mean, there are two Marleys. That alone kinda knocks it out of the running of that particular race.
However, there is part of one scene in the movie that’s almost directly from the original tale, which is not included in every rendition. One which often comes to mind when I think of the muppet’s version.
During Scrooge’s jaunt with the Ghost of Christmas Present, he witnesses Cratchit’s house. Bob and tiny Tim come home from the Christmas Eve church service. And Mrs. Cratchit asks her husband a question while he’s greeting his other children. She asks how little Tim behaved in church. And Bob’s answer (which I’m quoting from the original though the movie’s scene is very close) comes:
“‘As good as gold,’ said Bob, ‘and better. Somehow, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.’”
Here’s this little kid, who seems to have struggled with a disability for his whole, short life, and his desire is for others to see him and think of Jesus. Knowing nothing but suffering and a poor life, Tim thinks a most selfless thought. He wants his presence, and the very suffering of his life, to be the thing that points people to Jesus.
Not just the baby in the manger. But the powerful Savior who can heal. Yet Tim doesn’t focus on how he’s not been healed by the God he loves. No, he hopes that his suffering might be used by God to bring a blessed reminder to other’s lives.
And that tiny message breaks Scrooge.
Up until this point, Scrooge has been grumpy, fearful, and hurt by his own choices. But he has been completely selfish. Everything up to that place in the story has been focused solely on Scrooge. But after witnessing this selfless little suffering child, Scrooge’s focus shifts to someone other than himself.
Then, when he asks about Tim’s future and the spirit slaps the miser in the face with his own words of letting the poor and disabled die and “decrease the surplus population,” his own selfish perspective leaves him in true sorrow. Not even Scrooge’s own foretold death hits him as hard as Tim’s death.
Who knew that a life of selfless suffering could affect another’s life in such a grand manner?
This year’s been a rough one. And a lot of suffering’s been going around. Some have had loved ones die or be terribly sick. Others have had to tighten their belts because money’s not coming in. And still others sit lonely, far away from family and loved ones who aren’t able to join them.
But maybe, instead of focusing on ourselves, we could take a cue from a little kid on a crutch and let our suffering be used to remind people of Jesus. The one who comforts us in our loss, provides for us in ways unimagined, and died on a cross so that we could become a part of the family of God.
And then we could end this year of suffering by echoing Tim.
God bless us, every one.