Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) had danced in and out of the theme of grace for nine episodes, and so, I expected the gospel message to be delivered in it’s full force at some point – I just didn’t know it would come so soon.
This was a precious, precious episode.
It begins with an unexpected flashback to a conversation between Arima and Watari, where the latter says something very important:
In the face of adversity – that’s when you know if someone is the real deal or not.
That quote sets up the adversity in this episode, where Arima must again face his demons and decide whether to retreat, as he has for the past two years, or to have faith in the one who believes in him when he doesn’t even believe in himself.
Adversity is a funny thing. In many eastern cultures, it’s expected, even embraced; in the west, we fear it and we run from it because it’s painful. But no one ever grows up when things are easy. We must go through the fire to change – and when there’s purpose to the flame, we’ll find that either we wilt and burn, or become like a forged blade, strong and sharp.
There is purpose in this contest for Arima. He would never have submitted to it on his own. It is Kaori, through her overpowering will, who pushes Arima into the fire. And as he remarks, she does so without mercy.
God is the same. The world sometimes pictures him as either a lion or a lamb, angry and just or kind and compassionate. But he is regularly something in between – the arbiter of tough love. He will push us into the fire, always with purpose, to change us. Our discomfort is worth it to him if it means we’ll come through better, stronger, happier.
And that kind of love – a love with no mercy – is what we need to grow. It’s what Arima needed. And when he was at rock bottom, about to fail in front of so many people, seeing the demons of his mother again, he could have chosen to quit. In fact, he does at first. But he then turns to that love, because he knows it really is love. Kaori loves him. Arima knows it – unlike with his mother, he doesn’t have to question it. He can have faith in Kaori, knowing that even though it hurts, things will turn out okay (and even better).
In that moment where Arima literally sees the light (notice that Kaori is bright and glowing while the spectre of Arima’s mom is gray and drab), he remembers her grace. Though he is so flawed, though he doesn’t deserve it, though he ran away from her, Kaori reaches out to him time and time again, believing in Arima. She saw the beauty within him when he couldn’t see it himself.
And when you realize that someone loves you that much – that they would believe in you, suffer for you (as Kaori does in her recital), suffer with you, how else can you respond but with thanks?
And over and over and over again, Arima thanks Kaori in his mind…and then he thanks her by playing a beautiful song. Arima calls out to Kaori, who knows what he is thinking, that this is for you. The piece he plays is a love song for her.
Our lives are the same. When we realize the depths of our inadequacies and that God, the creator of the all things, still believes in us, still trusts us, still loves us – and that he in fact loves us to the most painful depths, the only sincere response is this – playing our own song for him. Our lives become that song – a beautiful piece that we hope reaches His ears, one we play out of unending and joyful thankfulness.
For in the end, we realize what God has done for us – it’s the same that Arima says of Kaori: he has set us free.