Continuing with the original discussion, toward the end of the True Grit movie, after the tough, willful, outspoken Mattie Ross shot dead her father’s murderer, Tom Chaney, she stumbled backward from the recoil of the shotgun she was firing at Chaney, and fell into a deep hole filled with rattlesnakes. No one was around, and she was seemingly without hope in a final moment of terror even as she reached her life’s highest goal and most desperate desire, finding justice for her father’s tragic death. In the darkness of that pit, just when there seemed to be no hope, she called out for help, and Marshall Rooster Cogburn appeared at the top of the pit, threw down a rope, and worked his way down to where he could shoot some of the rattlesnakes in the hole. Unfortunately, before the Marshall could reach Mattie, one snake had bitten her on the left hand. Upon reaching Mattie, Cogburn immediately used his knife to make a cut across the bite and tried to suck out the venom, but it was apparent that some of the poison would still make its way into her bloodstream.
The realization of the dire situation (Mattie's life in peril) precipitated Cogburn's wild, reckless, and desperate ride in the darkness carrying Mattie’s barely conscious body toward the nearest town that was many miles away. The forced hard ride drove the horse beyond its normal endurance into extreme exhaustion, pushing it to the point of death, at which time Cogburn shot the already dying animal, cutting short its final suffering in an act of mercy. Then the already exhausted Cogburn in desperation, probably running on pure adrenaline (or perhaps a helping, encouraging, strengthening measure of God’s Spirit from the director's perspective) picked Mattie up in his arms and stumbled off down the dark road. He finally reached a point in the road where he could make out the lights in a house a few hundred yards away. Depleted of his strength, he dropped to his knees on the road, setting Mattie in the dust and fired his gun into the air to attract the attention and gain the assistance of the occupants of the house. All during this desperate ride and walk, the piano notes for “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” were softly played in the background, suggesting that, even in this most desperate and dire hour , God’s hovering, eternal, and compassionate presence was always there to ensure that they made it through.
Although the characters in the story thought they were alone, they were never completely alone throughout their struggles and trials of the story. Thankfully, this is not only true in this movie but also in real life. And it is a lesson that we would all do well to remember and to be thankful for. God hears the cries of pain and grief of all His children throughout the earth, and He cares deeply about our suffering and wants to give us His loving presence, His wisdom, and His power to get us through all of the hard times of our lives. He wants to be there and promises to be there with us for everything and wants us to lean on His everlasting, mighty, comforting arms when we reach the moments of desperation, the end of our strength, and the limit of our will to go on, the end of our ability to believe in hope. In those most desperate hours, God extends His loving, bright, truthful, and powerful arm into the situation, taking hold of us and lifting us up to His comforting presence as a loving father would sweep up and clutch a child, holding him or her close to his chest, in the hour when we most need comfort, strength, hope, and love to get through the agony of grief, the heart-breaking tragedies and crises, the rejections or failures of people whom we depend on or love, and even the sinful mistakes we work our way into. God is gracious and loving to a tender, honest, repentant, broken heart.
I pray that you would know this infinitely loving, compassionately forgiving God in a very personal way every single day of your life.