The fourth episode of Angel Beats is entitled, “Day Game,” and it…follows some baseball games held during the day. In this episode, we learn more about Hinata who, like others before him, reveals some information about his life before death to Otonashi.
In life, Hinata loved to play baseball. He was on the team, but the day he died – something happened. He missed a game impacting catch and after that, to drown out his sorrows – he took some drugs, which it is implied led to his death. He continues to dream about that missed catch wondering what things could have been like had he caught it. During the game they’re playing, he loses sight of what is going on around him as a hit comes toward him, focusing on trying to relive that moment. As Hinata lets himself mesh into the dream, the ball comes toward him, missing another character coming up behind him. He has a moment of seeming contentment as he appears to start to let it go, but the nagging of what if drags on him. What if, he thinks to himself, what if.
Hinata is dwelling on his past. He is letting it define his future and distract him, in the current situation. The Bible calls us to let the past go (Isaiah 43:18, Philippians 3:13). When we are saved by Christ, we are a new creation and the old self is no more. Is that the case for Hinata? Not necessarily – as this version of the afterlife is not the Christian afterlife, but it is still a lesson he needs to learn.
Dwelling on the past as Hinata is doing can cause one to lose sight of what lies directly in front of them. As a Christian, when we dwell on our past sins, our past mistakes we are unable to truly forgive ourselves. Christ already did forgive us when He gave Himself on the cross. We need to forgive ourselves too. Also, we need to remember – we can do nothing about the past. It already happened and going back in time is impossible (barring someone inventing a real-life TARDIS). We cannot change what we did, but we can move forward and be content exactly where we are.
Where does that contentment come from? For those of us in the Lord, it comes from Him. My joy is in the Lord (Psalm 16:8-9). When the world or my situation all around me is trying to keep me down, I maintain my joy in the Lord knowing He will be my guide (James 1:2-3). Because I have Jesus, I am always rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). No matter the situation, contentment can be found not in the world, not in another person, not in reliving a moment, not any action you do – but in Christ who will strengthen you through all life’s troubles (Philippians 4:11-13). The Lord provides the contentment, the internal joy which never makes sense to the world around us.
With contentment in your current situation and a realization your past is unchangeable, what then is the point of even asking “What if?” Clearly there is discontent in Hinata’s afterlife making him feel uneasy about his mistakes, his failed catch. But, if he realizes these truths – he may find the peace which he is currently missing, the peace which Iwasawa was able to find for herself before she passed on in Episode 3.
Quite frankly, “what if” is not the question Hinata should be asking, instead – he should be asking, “What’s next.” As he is already in some form of the afterlife, a purgatory of sorts – what’s next is far more relevant. As one in the Lord, I know what the afterlife holds – and it is joy as we are in His presence. What’s next then? True contentment.