Yet, even in the most terrible of places we often find exactly what it is we were truly looking for, leaving us to sing “There’s more I gained, ‘cause it let me back to you.”
I’d like to start this off by saying if you have not yet listened to the “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack you should stop what you are doing and do so immediately. Sure, I have some bias here because I love it, but it's soundtrack will bring a pep into anyone’s step (even if you didn’t like the movie)! Its rousing ensemble, distinct tracks, and powerful voices make for a fun time… at least in my family’s car rides!
Of all the songs on the soundtrack, “From Now On” is by far my favorite. When I listen to music, the lyrics are the thing that make or break it for me. I resonate so much with lyrics I can pick apart, find meaning in, and see in my own life - and that’s exactly what I did when I heard this song. Really, what I noticed almost automatically were the religious undertones. The whole song allows you to transport yourself to a similar moment in your own life: the moment when you hit rock bottom but also encountered joy in the most precious of ways. The moment when even the darkest of sufferings brought you to an everglowing light, the arms of our Father. Let’s start with the first verse:
“I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won't hold
'Cause from then, rubble
Can only be what's true
If all was lost
There's more I gained
'Cause it led me back
Now, in the movie this was one of the most pivotal scenes. The whole time we follow P.T. Barnum and the creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. We see his determination in achieving success, despite his humble beginning. With a group of misfits, he creates the circus and gains popularity. He drank champagne with kings and queens, politicians praised him, and he won over the cheers of all who came to see his show. He made it big. And with this song, we see Barnum mourning all he has built being destroyed by a devastating fire. He lost his circus all the while already being estranged from his wife and children in his search for fame. And yet, in the midst of this powerful sadness, he realizes that in all that he lost, his eyes were opened to what was most important.
Maybe our circumstances aren't exactly the same as Barnum’s, but we’ve all been there. Put yourself back into a moment where these words would have resonated with you, when everything felt cold and alone. In our own search for things of this world, we put our livelihood into whatever we determined would achieve our personal success (i.e. fortune, good health, perfect job, etc.). We most often think we are capable of achieving this ideal on our own or when it finally is achieved it is something we are entitled to. In that process we lose sight of the gold, leading us into a corner of self-pity, hurt, and confusion when it all comes tumbling down. It feels like a terrible place to be. Yet, even in the most terrible of places we often find exactly what it is we were truly looking for, leaving us to sing “There’s more I gained, ‘cause it let me back to you.” That moment of realization leads to this touching chorus:
“From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What's waited 'til tomorrow starts tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on”
That cold and dark corner leads us to a new beating heart. Though we wish we were spared of the pain, our “from now on” moment outweighs it all. In hindsight, the greatest of suffering leads to the greatest of growth. After every season of bitterness, we have the chance to find a new and passionate love for He who matters most, God. It is our very suffering that leads us straight into the arms of our Lord, the one place you can truly find comfort in the midst of suffering. We learn that it was Him who never left us, Him who always sought out for us, and Him who would help us out of despair and into love.
It’s the very moments that break us that also make us. Without hitting rock bottom, we would never have this prodigal moment, a moment of pure repentance and change. Just as the song ends, we “come back home.” My hope is that you would look to this song on those days where you feel the hurt, using “From Now On” as a mantra of resolve and transformation. From now on, friends, do not let your eyes be blinded by the light of this world. Live in the mystery of God’s love and your life will be more full than you could have ever possibly imagined.