Some years ago, the movie Bruce Almighty was near the top of the box office charts. Unfortunately, one of my favorite scenes was cut from the released version of the movie. I was only able to see it in the “deleted scenes and outtakes” section of the DVD version. Why they deleted the scene is unfathomable to me, since I think it really decodes the whole movie.
The movie features a prideful man (Bruce) who has complaints about how God runs the universe. “God” shows up and turns the tables on Bruce, “permitting” him to be “God” for a day. As you might expect, Bruce makes a real mess of the whole thing. He abuses his power and plays with a lot of people.
Even worse, he just gets tired of considering requests (prayers) and says “Yes” to every one. Before you know it, the whole world is so messed up that only the real God could ever sort things out.
In one deleted scene, which you will see in the video below, “God” explains to Bruce that simply relieving people’s burdens means that they are not able to reach their full potential and in fact may even self-destruct. “God” shows Bruce how interference and simply removing struggles actually destroyed the lives of several people. Here are the key points of “God’s” discourse:
1. Triumph is born of struggle.
2. Faith is the alchemist (i.e., it produces gold from less valuable things).
3. If you want to paint [beautiful] pictures, you have to use some dark colors.
Great wisdom here! Apparently too great for Hollywood, since the scene ended up on the cutting room floor. Nevertheless, it was a powerful outtake.
We might always wish and pray that God would “answer our prayers” by taking away our struggles. But God knows that sometimes the best answer is “No,” for out of our struggles, our strengths emerge and our faith is made stronger and more genuine.
I have cued this clip to the critical scene, in which “God” teaches Bruce these truths. If you watch the whole clip, you might get more context. Remember, because it is an outtake reel, it jumps around and not all the scenes are filled in or finished. But you’ll get the point.
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.