In one scene of Jackie, Natalie Portman, as Jackie Kennedy, seeks counsel from her priest played by the late Sir John Hurt. The setting is late November 1963, after her husband John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, but still in the midst of the funeral/ memorial/ national mourning period. Profoundly pained, Jackie shares her feelings of deep sadness, hurt and loneliness. The priest tells her the story of Jesus’ healing of the blind man from John chapter 9:
1. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.
7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
He then tells the grieving widow, “Right now, you are blind, not because you have sinned, but because you have been chosen, so that the works of God can be revealed in you.” Jackie remains silent, and the scene ends.
Later in the film, the priest comments, “Famous life, famous death,” in response to Jackie’s tearful confession that she hoped some person would’ve shot her dead during the JFK funeral procession so that she could join her husband. Jackie then says, “I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy.”
How often in my life have I thought I didn’t want some burden placed on me. I never wanted to be disabled, to have a chronic illness. I never wanted to bear witness to my younger sister’s dependence on pain pills, an addiction that killed her. I never wanted to be placed in a position to watch dementia rob my mom of her memories, or cancer to eat away at her physically. I didn’t want to watch my dad die slowly over 10 months. I certainly didn’t want these things to occur within a few years of each other.
And yet, they did.
Not because of my sin, or my parents’ sins.
May God take my hurts, and through them, may His works be revealed, to the glory of Christ.