In the TV show Once Upon a Time, Regina Mills (aka the Evil Queen) is convinced that she will always be evil. “Always a villain, even when I’m not,” she laments. Snow White tries to change her mind, saying that she can learn to be good and earn her happy ending, but Regina is fixed in her viewpoint. She believes the only way for her to be happy is to change the story completely. She believes that there is an Author somewhere who has written her story, and that if he just changes the story, she will get her happy ending.
We, too, tend to condemn ourselves. We look at our failures and sins and say, “I’m hopeless. I’m worthless. I can’t stop sinning and failing.” People try to change our minds, saying that we can learn to be good if we just try hard enough. But in a way, Regina is right – there is only one way to find our “happy endings.” The story has to change.
There’s one big difference between our Author and Regina’s Author, however. Our Author, Jesus, changed the story before we even understood something needed to change. He came to Earth, where he suffered and died at our hands in order to save us from our sins and failures. Although we were quite as evil as the Evil Queen, he willingly lay down his life for us. And when he rose again from the dead, he changed our stories irrevocably. Suddenly, there was a possibility for our “happy endings” in Heaven with him. Suddenly, there was light and joy and hope.
In Psalm 130:1-3, the Psalmist is clearly in a state of hopelessness. He is crying “out of the depths” to God, begging Him to hear and pleading for mercy. He says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” But as the Psalm goes on, there is a marked difference between his lament and the lament of Regina. Regina’s Author is distant, unidentified, and uncaring. Our Author, and the Author of the Psalmist, is close, identified, and caring. The Psalmist goes on, “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (verse 4).
When we condemn ourselves, when we are lost and we can’t even think of a prayer, the Spirit intercedes for us. The Spirit urges us to look to the One who condemned himself for us. In the midst of our darkest moments, when we are crying “out of the depths” to God, the Spirit reminds us of the most important truth: forgiveness. We are not condemned, no matter how condemned we may feel. The story has changed, and we are forgiven. So “hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption” (verse 7).