The Whos are simple characters in a simple story, but the message has profound meaning if we have eyes to see…
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a timeless story with eternal messages. The Grinch, a hard-hearted humbug, hates the people of Whoville for their devotion to Christmas. He devises a plan to spoil Christmas by stealing all that is meaningful to the Whos—the decorations, presents, and the food for their feast. As the Grinch stops short of dumping what he stole from the Whos to listen to them cry over their loss, his heart is irrevocably changed from bad to good when he hears them singing in celebration on Christmas morning. He ponders that maybe Christmas means something more, and we know the rest of the story. But do we?
Who are the Whos?
If we only focus on the Grinch’s journey of redemption, we are robbed of seeing the deeper theme which the Whos have been trying to tell us all along—how to endure through tragic loss.
As you remember, the Grinch broke into the Who houses and wiped them clean. He stole everything—not only the decorations and presents. He stole, food, logs for the fire, everything. If you’ve ever been a victim of a robbery or physical assault, you know the feeling of utter violation when a stranger has stolen a part of you and you are helpless to stop it. It’s nothing short of terrorism. And in essence, this is what the Grinch did to the Whos.
I remember the gut-wrenching feeling that raced through me as a child watching this. It didn’t matter that this was a cartoon—I felt horribly for the Whos and what they would have to face the next day as they woke to find everything gone (and it looked as if he took the furniture too!)
Behind the Scenes
The way the story is told, we don’t see the first reaction of the Whos to this tragedy. We are perched on Mt. Crumpet with the Grinch waiting and watching and listening. We don’t see their initial shock or sorrow—and I’m sure there was a bit of that happening between the pages. No, Dr. Seuss chose to keep the telling of the story in the Grinch’s perspective, but it didn’t stop me from wondering what the Whos must have felt before we saw them come outside with smiling faces. I’m sure they felt despair. But what they did with their feelings made all the difference—they could have been bitter and angry. They could have abandoned their faith. Instead they chose to let this tragedy strengthen their faith. They decided this all inside their homes before they came out to celebrate. They picked themselves up and reminded themselves that even though life is hard, and terrible things happen, their faith will give them strength to endure.
The Small but Mighty Whos
The Whos reaction to the Grinch’s greedy act is a lesson for all people who have experienced pain or loss at any level. How we face tragedy determines our character. We might not be in control of our circumstances, but we can control our attitude. We can forgive. We can understand. We can work on plan B, or C, or D. We can resolve to press forward rather than surrender. And we can let tragedies strengthen our faith.
Walk by Faith
People of faith must face the test of faith every day. It’s scary to let go of control and allow faith to lead you in the darkness of uncertainty. But only walking by faith can we be led to the promise of peace. No matter what the world tries to take from us, no matter the heartache we bear, no matter the atrocities we witness, none of it will last. None of it is permanent. The devastation we see is not the end. All of this is true because God sent His Son to atone for all of this, and we can rejoice knowing his eternal story cannot fail. No matter your loss, Christmas will come.