My newfound similarities with the shirefolk prompted an urge to watch the Tolkien movies again--and to read the books, but I am determined to finish Paradise Lost first. So, in the past couple weeks, we've watched the first two of the trilogy. And I was thinking. . .
(Of course, Tolkien's series are rich in analogies to life, and perhaps this one isn't new. Nevertheless, I'll share it.)
In The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam are captured by men from Gondor. Gollum, serving as their guide to Mordor, is (initially) not. Hungry for fresh fish, however, he goes fishing in the "forbidden pool" outside the soldiers' caves. Rather than see him killed, Frodo confesses that Gollum is bound to serve him and then tricks Gollum into being captured.
Gollum, understandably, is furious at Frodo's betrayal. He does not know that his life has been spared, only that at Frodo's persuasion, he has fallen into captivity and abuse. The trust that he had developed in Frodo's good intentions toward him is dissolved, and, shortly thereafter, he hatches his plan to lead Frodo and Sam to their deaths.
We are sometimes in Gollum's position, happily going about our business--as Gollum is playfully enjoying the water and the prospect of fresh food--when we are jerked up short. We may be caught by pain or temptation or an unpleasant situation. And, like Gollum, we turn reproachfully upon our Master as if he had betrayed us--never realizing that, in subjecting us to the circumstance, He has saved our lives.
If Gollum had seen clearly enough to know Frodo's heart, to know the sympathy and kindness Frodo intended toward him, he would not have turned against him. He might have been confused, and certainly dismayed, but not bitter. Likewise, if we know our Father well enough to know His unconditional love for us, we cannot rail against the difficulties He allows us to endure. Although we may not understand how, we know that He is saving not only our lives, but our eternal souls.