“Dad! Dad! You gotta get up! Come on, we gotta go home!” Simba nudges his head against his father’s face. It drops hard. He leaps up and tugs on his father’s ear. No response. Simba’s eyes widen and he frantically calls for help. Tears flood down his face.
Out of the mist comes his Uncle Scar who scolds Simba. “Simba. What have you done?” Scar proceeds to feed Simba shame and doubts. “If it weren’t for you, he’d still be alive. What will your mother think?”
Simba’s eyes widen with terror. “What am I gonna do?”
Scar hisses in his ear, “Run away, Simba. Run! Run away and never return.”
Simba flees and our hearts break at the sadness and injustice of this situation. Simba doesn’t know Scar murdered Mufassa. He doesn’t even know Scar was present during the stampede. He thinks it’s his fault, and his one source of “comfort” only confirms his worst fear: he killed his daddy.
And so he runs. Runs far away from Pride Rock. He runs so he won’t have to face his mother and tell her what he did. He runs to forget about the stampede and the death of his father. He runs to escape his problems and responsibilities as the new lion king.
He ignores his situation and discovers Hakuna Matata. He makes new friends (Pumba and Timon), grows up, enjoys his life of “no worries,” and all is well… until his past catches up with him.
A life long friend named Nala bumps into him and they excitedly greet each other. After their happy reunion, Nala tells him about the atrocities Scar has been doing since claiming the throne. She tells him how there’s no food around Pride Rock. How he needs to return and take his place as king.
Simba rejects her advice and runs away again. It’s not until he meets Rafiki, a wise crazy monkey, that he begins to see the light. And then he sees the ghost of his father, who tells him to remember who he is.
Simba finally decides to return to Pride Rock, defeat his uncle, and take his rightful place as king.
I think the clip above is my all time favorite part of this movie. It’s when Simba finally realizes that he can’t keep running from his past. He learns to face his problems and to take up his responsibilities.
Like Simba, we tend to run from our heartaches.
We like to ignore them, pretend they don’t exist. We like to sing songs of Hakuna Matata and live as if we don’t have worries. We push our doubts and fears and guilt deep inside of us, to scared to face them.
But here’s what Simba finally had to learn: he needed to face his past and his pain in order to live to the fullest. However, he didn’t have to face them alone.
Nala, Rafiki, Pumba and Timon all were there by his side as he endured this time of trials. They were good friends and were there when he needed them most.
Like Simba’s friends, Jesus promises to help us through our tribulations. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 32:6).
When we have hard times, Jesus will always be there with us. He won’t let us face them on our own.
Likewise, we need to surround ourselves with people who will support us through thick and thin.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us that “Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can pick him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him!”
We need friends who will pick us up when life knocks us over. More importantly, we need to be that kind of friend. We need to support our friends and encourage them when they’re going through hard times too. It’s a mutual thing.
Once Simba returns to Pride Rock, he finally learns the truth: Scar killed Mufassa. That truth set him free from his lifetime of running.
While he was hiding from his problems, he was unable to learn the truth. Same goes for us. If we’re lying to ourselves about our situation, we won’t find truth. Truth like how God will never leave us. Truth like how we need a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Truth like how God has a plan.
When we look our problems in the eye, with God’s help we can know the truth and “the truth will set [us] free” (John 8:32).
As Rafiki says, “The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
Will we run or learn?
At the end of The Lion King, Pride Rock is returned to it’s former glory. This reminds me of how God restored Job’s losses at the end of his story.
And this presents one last lesson:
The hard times won’t last forever.
They won’t. As Christians, we have the hope of heaven in our future. So even if life here on earth doesn’t get better, we have a future home where we’ll be with Jesus and all trials vanish for good.
We need to set our eyes on Christ, the giver of hope, and not on the crumbling world around us.