In the third episode of Angel Beats entitled, “My Song,” we see the Afterlife Battlefront team planning to sneak into Angel’s dorm. In the process, they send in Iwasawa and her band Girls Dead Monster to provide a distraction to the student body. Otonashi talks to Iwasawa before the show and the planned attack. During this time, Iwasawa describes how she died and came to be in this realm. She had a poor childhood with her parents constantly fighting. When she was old enough, she left home and decided to follow her passion for music. She wrote music and performed whenever she could taking odd jobs on the side to help her with her music career. She collapsed at work one day only to discover a brain bleed based on an injury she took from her parents’ fighting years before. She died in the hospital. She seems to blame God and is angry about her circumstances. As Otonashi says after Iwasawa walks away, “Those were the eyes of someone who cursed the unfairness of life.” Like Yuki before her we have a girl questioning the fairness of God.
As the episode progresses, Iwasawa and Girls Dead Monster perform to distract the students. After the performance, teachers try to break it up and Iwasawa grabs her guitar and begins to play a different melody. It’s a ballad where she pours out her feelings accepting her fate. She gets to a point where she realizes she can do nothing about her situation and through pouring her heart out in music finds peace in a difficult situation. It’s at that moment that she is freed and disappears. We do not yet know the full ramifications of her disappearance (or at least I don’t, first time watching the show), but she left peacefully.
Iwasawa in a moment of difficulty, in a moment of struggle – she finds peace, she finds calm. Now, in her case – she draws toward herself realizing that the answer to her difficulty is acceptance. What are we as Christians called to do? The Lord tells us through His word to not worry about the day to day or the mundane (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6-7). That said, Iwasawa’s life and challenges were not merely about the nuance of life, but great challenges into themselves. From her life to her afterlife, she saw challenge after challenge. Where do we find peace? In Christ (John 14:27, Philippians 4:11-13). In Christ, we can be calmed through everything (Philippians 4:6-7). When we are weak, He is our strength (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
In Iwasawa’s case, she draws strength from herself and her music – but we find true peace not from a song or from our internal strength. We need something greater, something perfect – or more aptly, someone. We are weak, He is strong. We are temporary, He is forever. We are imperfect, He is perfect. And he wants us to rely upon Him in His perfection (Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:28, 1 Peter 5:7). In difficulty, in moments of struggle – we often do not find the peace from the Lord. We often find ourselves weary and broken down. We feel like David in Psalm 22:1-2 where we feel God is far from our groanings and our difficulty. But, as David continues through the Psalm – God is Holy, God is in charge, and He deserves our praise. Period. Even in difficulty, He deserves our praise (Job 1:21-22).
In difficulty, through Christ we will find peace. Let us recognize that we cannot control everything and accept the difficulties we find in life. Let us not, however, turn inward to our own weak strength – but to the one who is much stronger than ourselves. Unlike Iwasawa, we cannot transcend on our own. We need a Savior who is able to transcend this life into the next – we need Jesus.