Holding Out for a Hero

Written by Madeline Robison
Published on June 09, 2020

Surely we can all agree that Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” is one of the greatest dancing and workout songs of the modern era. 

The song is fabulous, with a driving sense of urgency. Bonnie’s scratchy, shout-type singing brings the right edge, as the classic good-conquers-evil scene is immortalized in the movie Footloose

The first verse gets me every time: “Where’ve all the good men gone / and where are all the gods? / Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? / Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed? / Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need.”

Then comes—sing it with me now, “I need a hero / I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night / he’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight / I need a hero / I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light / he’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon and he’s gotta be larger than life, larger than life.” 

Repeated rhythms: Great highs and great lows

It turns out that two thousand years ago, when there was quite a bit more at stake than whether Ren McCormack would best Chuck Cranston in a face-off of wits, a hero was exactly what the Israelites—God’s chosen people—needed. 

They had ridden rough waves in their history. Being God’s chosen ones had not meant having easy lives. 

The Israelites had endured literal centuries of great highs and great lows: wars and victories, enslavements and freedoms, conflicts and triumphs, tensions and (relative) peace, and faithlessness and faithfulness. Much of these rhythms seemed to be repeated time and again, with no end in sight. 

They stumbled and God forgave them. And then the next generation repeated the cycle, only to be followed by the next.

A Messiah who redeems our odds

The last words from any prophets about what the Messiah would be like, and what he would mean to and for the Hebrew people, had come hundreds of years before. 

Entire generations were born, lived, and died, with no subsequent word from God about when, where, or how the Messiah would come. Universally, the expectation was that God would send a warrior king, one who would deliver the Israelites from the hands of their constant, repeated, much-larger enemies.

They were holding out for a hero who would win against all odds, who would conquer the Hebrews’ conquerors, and who would redeem the lives of the Jewish people. They were holding out for a hero who would establish God’s kingdom for his chosen people, once and for all.

Finally, that hero (that Messiah) came….just not in the form the Hebrews expected.  

He came in the form of a tiny babe who had to be swaddled to survive the cold, nursed to sustain life, wiped clean to stave off infection, and kissed and held tight to learn to receive human love.

The babe grew up and became a steady warrior who focused less on the enemies who rage against those who believed in him, and more on the enemies we all have within: sin, selfishness, prejudice, and unforgiveness. 

He came as the atypical warrior who sought to rid us of what keeps us from surrendering all to him.

Many of the Israelites did not know what to do with or about him. But some did, even at his birth. And more would continue to come to him throughout his life on earth, to see him as the fulfillment of God’s repeated prophecies. 

Over the millennia since his death, hundreds of millions more would seek him, give their lives to him, and realize that he’s less the hero against all odds, and more the Messiah who redeems our odds.

Be ready

He came to seek and to save the lost. 

His message was, “I came for you.” Three decades after his birth, his message—given in a most unforgettable way on a cross, on a hill—remained, “I came for you.”

As believers, our hope lies in his promises of redemption and belonging. 

One look at the landscape of our twenty-first century hearts, and we aren’t sure our actions always match our professed beliefs.  

How does the rubber meet the road in this modern-day game of chicken we seem to be living? What does it look like to trust completely in Jesus today? 

As Jesus’ I came for you message remains, his message also increasingly transforms to: Be at the ready because I’m coming again

Will we be like the Israelites of old at their best or their worst? 

Afraid of being afraid

Years ago, one of our boys got up in the middle of the night and needed me to take him back to bed. He was just growing out of the toddler years and was at that developmental junction where sleep sometimes grows unsettled again. 

I took him back to his room, tucked him in, got in his bed, quietly sang his favorite song, and scratched his back. 

After lying with him for a while, I thought I was in the clear.  His breathing went from slightly shallow and a little fast, to slower and deeper.

I was wrong. As soon as I moved, he sat bolt-upright in his bed and said, “Mama, you can’t go.”

“Why not, buddy?” I questioned.

To which he replied: “Because I’m af-waid.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked.

His response: “I’m af-waid I’ll be af-waid again.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

In one simple statement, he summed up what so often holds us back. As adults, we are chained to a wall, keeping us in the same cycle the Israelites faced. 

They struggled to trust God fully throughout their years in captivity and other epochs. And when their Messiah did come, they couldn’t see him for who he was because he wasn’t what they expected. 

They feared he wouldn’t be enough, and then they feared that they would all be in fear again. 

We experience heartbreak, financial devastation, have dreams squelched, or barely survive the death of a loved one, and we end up in a pit. 

We watch the news and feel overwhelmed about coronavirus, the effects of the lockdown, or what’s going to happen in the coming days. 

We do our best to navigate the realities of life, which now include novel diseases, unemployment, rising levels of abuse and mental health issues, and uncertainty of the future. 

Pits are not homes

One day leads to the next until eventually, we look around and see the pit has become our home. We forget that pits are not homes, and no one is supposed to stay in one. 

We tell ourselves we want to find our way out, but in reality, our fears dictate our next move. We end up more comfortable sitting at the bottom of our pit, drawing circles on the dirt floor, forgetting (or refusing) to climb up and out of the darkness into the bright, open world above. 

We trade the comfort of what we know, no matter how dark, cold, or ugly it may be, for the promise of healing from our one true hero—the only hero we will ever need. We become afraid of once again being afraid.

But if we know that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). If we believe that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of love and power and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). And if we accept that Jesus came to set us free (Galatians 5:1), then we can recognize Christ as our hero. 

We can choose to lean into what he has laid out for us with hope, joy, and complete belief in his goodness and provision. Yes—even in 2020.


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Madeline Robison

Madeline Robison has been caught up in the power of words – written, spoken, and sung – her whole life, which led to her studying French and Linguistics at her alma mater, Vanderbilt University. A seventh-generation Texan, she returned to Texas once she graduated, and a few years later she met and married her favorite person in the world, her husband Brian. They’ve been married twenty years and are grateful to be parents of four wonderful kids, one of whom has been in Heaven with Jesus since she was four years old. The Robisons are members of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where Brian serves as an elder and Madeline has served as a deacon. She loves Buc-ee’s, Luccheses, homemade soup, baseball, 80s music, travel, and George Strait. She has recorded three albums of hymns in Nashville and will launch her new blog, madelinemama, in January 2020.

Read more about Madeline

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