One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. The movie begins with an old man introducing the story to his sick grandson, describing the story as having everything: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”
This particular Bible story is worthy of being made into a big budget blockbuster because like The Princess Bride, it has everything: drama, action, romance, a wedding, and yes, miracles. But there are some things that Tobit has that The Princess Bride doesn’t have such as divine intervention and life lessons.
The Book of Tobit is a novel, a fictional story written when the Jews were oppressed by the Greeks. Even though the story is fictional, it reminded the audience at the time that God will eventually help those who suffer and that it’s good to do the right thing even when you don’t get immediately rewarded for it. While most of the books in the Bible are historical accounts, we can learn just as much from fiction as we do from history.
All the best stories have the heroes go on a journey that leads them to somewhere unexpected. Much like Bilbo in The Hobbit, Tobias is called to help his father in his time of need. He takes this journey with a friend who turns out to have a great hidden power. There’s a big fish story that gives Tobias some things he’ll need for the things he’ll face later on. He saves a damsel in distress from a great danger and they of course fall in love. After the wedding, Tobias goes home, saves his family, and they all live happily ever after.
One wonderful thing about a great story is that you can identify yourself with any character, whether it’s the protagonist or a supporting character or even the villain. While the book of Tobit has no relatable villain, everyone else in the story is someone we can identify with. We can see ourselves in Tobit, who tries to do the right thing even when he gets zero approval for doing so, or in his son Tobias, who bravely journeys to help his father and encounters some crazy things along the way. We can see ourselves in Sarah, who longs for a husband, or in Anna, who is concerned for the safety of her son. Most strangely, we can even see ourselves in the angel Raphael. While it’s true that we can never become angels, there are probably times in our lives where we decide on helping a friend or a stranger in need without asking for anything in return.
My prayer for you in this Bible study is that you find yourself in this story. While our lives aren’t as glamorous as the movies, God often calls us to go on a journey that leads us to somewhere unexpected.
As JRR Tolkien said:
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Let the journey begin, dearest sisters in Christ! I promise you, it will be a fun one!