A set of curious semblances can be found in the television series “Lost” and the woman described in the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 31. They are both extremely popular, sometimes misunderstood, and intriguing cultural symbols that cause deep reflection. They are also both shrouded in a cloud of pertinent mystery. Who are those maniacs attacking the island survivors? Who is Mrs. 31 married to—a politician or king who makes tons of money so she has time to do all of these chores; or perhaps she is the breadwinner and her husband does hardly anything but spend time outside the gates? Why did Jack make that decision? Why doesn’t Mrs. 31 sleep in when she can, instead of greeting the dawn to work? Some people err on the side of Jack trying to help others, or some see him merely improving his own ego. Readers can find the Proverbs 31 woman unattainable and an ancient male fantasy, or they can hang her story in their bathroom and try to be as productive as possible in their homes. What the majority can agree on is that these two works of art breed necessary conversation for our society today.
“Lost” was a long-running show produced by J.J. Abrams, a director who has proven himself to be in tune with what people want if not completely original in what he does. One who binges on the show using Netflix would probably have a different experience than another who had to wait each week in 2004, but the rich story is still there. Airplane crash survivors work together to try to escape their island, and go back to the lives they once knew. Each person has a story that is told through flashbacks in each episode, allowing the audience to know and care for them. Even, if they are completely evil. How does this happen? Excellent casting and well-written dialogue keep the viewer engaged and hoping to know more. The plot also recalls humanity, that a mass murderer was once a little boy with goofy glasses and an abusive father. Does someone kill him given the chance? Does that person hope that he will change, and save his life? Asking those questions can lead to inquiry about the current government situation or the violent, stressed drivers in morning traffic. Does someone kill an angry driver with the middle finger? Or does she continue driving slowly, and pray that they both have a joyous day? Does one lash out at seemingly irreparable circumstances with the carelessness of elected officials, or do they hold out for peace and the opportunity to do good deeds?
Listening to the story of the “virtuous wife” in Proverbs 31 also concerns survival. The audience wants to know what brings happiness to men and women in marriage, and also in family life. While impossible to know the details of this woman’s life, her attitude and mindset are quite clear. She loves God and her family. In response to the idea that this woman is a ridiculous standard, what happens when her emotional and spiritual life is observed? She makes her husband happy which could definitely mean light-heartedness; she works to feed her family and servants and then is generous to the poor, and also wisely invests for her family’s sake. Is she a perfect, fearless queen who never gets angry and performs limitless chores? Just because the passage doesn’t mention that doesn’t mean problems didn’t exist. But she isn’t characterized by negative traits. When the mother telling the story of this lady relays it, her first thought isn’t “Yeah, she was a bit of a bitch. But she sure took charge of those stocks and made millions!” The deeper moral of this story is that Mrs. 31’s heart was beautiful and overflowing. How she made others feel was more important than what she did. It’s quite possible that Christian women don’t need to see themselves in the role of building wealth or preparing food, if that’s not where life leads them. Is the focus on her internal qualities, not how to pay for a vineyard?
The similar revelations in “Lost” and the end of Proverbs 31 offer grace in dealing with human nature. It offers compassion, but it also offers motivation to reach for the brighter goal. Love is crying loudly when the plane crashes, transfusing blood to an unrepentant criminal, having trust that the future will take care of itself, and getting up two hours early to put an amazing breakfast on the table. It also moves past all of that into the unique, eternal stories fashioned over and over again.