If you don’t know, I am a HUGE fan of the insanely popular Broadway musical, Hamilton. Although I’ve never been able to see a live performance, I have been an avid supporter from afar. Since 2016, I have been listening to the soundtrack and have diligently sought after bootleg recordings of the show online. Even my wonderful girlfriend tried to swindle some free tickets for us. But, alas, I was never able to see it…UNTIL NOW! In the not-so-great year of 2020, Disney has been so gracious as to give us common folk a chance to see Hamilton from the comfort of our quarantined living rooms. So, after several years of creating mental pictures of what I thought the scenes would look like, I sat down at 11:00 last night and put on Hamilton. Man, were my mental pictures way off. The acting, the set design, the music, and the choreography was SO MUCH BETTER than I could have imagined. I found myself with chills at several points because of how beautiful some of the voices were. It was powerful, comedic, tragic, and energetic. And so far I’ve only watched Act 1! So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Disney. Because of this, I have somewhat forgiven you for ruining Star Wars.
Typically, I am not a fan of musicals. In fact, most of the musicals I have seen were either extremely boring or absolutely exhausting due to the large amount of singing there was. But, being the history nerd that I am, Hamilton was right up my alley. Also, there was something deeply personal about the show that I related to. What I’m talking about is the pursuit of satisfaction. In the very first song, we are introduced to Alexander Hamilton, “the ten dollar founding father without a father.” From the get-go, the lead character’s story is summed up for us. Alexander Hamilton, a poor immigrant orphan, becomes one of the founding fathers of the United States of America through sheer determination and power of will. So, Hamilton tells us the story of how that happens. Starting out in a place of dissatisfaction, we follow Alexander as he seeks to be satisfied. He chases after a legacy, political power, women, and much more that ultimately never satisfy. I think many of us can relate to such a pursuit.
As the show goes on, we watch as Alexander tragically pursues thing after thing and never finds contentment with what he has. When he becomes George Washington’s right hand man, he insists on fighting in the war. When he marries Eliza Schuyler, he cheats on her with another woman and catches feelings for her sister. He neglects his family to “write like he’s running out of time.” In the song “Burn”, a perfect description of Alexander is given:
She said, “You’ve married an Icarus. He has flown too close to the sun.” You and your words obsessed with your legacy. Your
sentences border on senseless and you are paranoid in every paragraph. How they perceive you, you, you, you.”
Several times throughout the play, Eliza begs him to slow down, but Alexander refuses because he has to do this and that to obtain this and that. Ultimately, this way of life leads to his death at the hands of Aaron Burr, a man who is also not satisfied. In Burr’s case, he desires to be in “the room where it happens,” a wish that is continuously stepped on by Hamilton. Both Burr and Hamilton’s devout pursuit of self-satisfaction sets them on a collision course with one another that concludes with a deadly duel.
So I ask, “what are we pursuing for satisfaction?” Well, often times as Christians we pursue the wrong things. Are the things that Hamilton pursued (a wife, politics, a legacy) inherently bad? Of course not! But, those things do become sinful when we find our ultimate satisfaction in them. Why? Because we should find our ultimate satisfaction in the Lord! In my devotion this morning, the Scripture was Psalm 103. Verses 1-5 state, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” As Hamilton spiraled out of control, he forgot the benefits that the Lord had placed in his life. He overlooked his family and the accomplishments that he had made by obsessively pursuing more. He became sick and greedy, refusing to be satisfied with the blessings that he had already been given.
Both Hamilton and this psalm convicted me of how I can so often be like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. In many cases, I ignore the great things that God has done for me and instead focus on the “million things I haven’t done” or the things he hasn’t given me. I become dissatisfied with the blessings I have and pray for more blessings. I struggle to be content. But, Psalm 103 serves as a reminder for us restless people when we become disillusioned in dissatisfaction. Christian, bless the Lord for what he has done and be satisfied. Look around you and count your blessings, and may they point you to the source of ultimate satisfaction: Jesus Christ. That would be enough.