This biopic of Aretha Franklin charts her rise to fame, from the days when, as a child, she was already an extraordinary singer, to her 1972 gospel concert. But her life had been far from free of trouble and over the years the fame and success took its toll on her. Despairing and lost she turned to drinking. At her lowest ebb she has a kind of vision of her mother, who comes and holds her close and sings Amazing Grace to her. Aretha’s father was a minister, and faith in Jesus had been a continuing thread in her life. As a result Aretha went on to record her most successful album, a live gospel concert, Amazing Grace.
Life can be an uphill struggle, and we need grace. In our loneliness and pain and stress. I don’t have the resources in myself to keep hoping, and I am more than grateful for the presence of God in my life. In our lostness we are found. He is light and life and love. It doesn’t solve our problems necessarily, but Jesus walks with us through the storms and the sweet moments. The prophet Isaiah (in chapter 53 and verse 3 of his biblical book) described Jesus as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Time and again religion is seen as a tidy version of life, for those with all the faith, and all the answers, and all the virtue. And yet time and again when people hit rock bottom they find God has already been down that far. In Jesus. A friend who is unafraid of the dark and the dirt, the mess, muddle and malevolence. I am so grateful for that.