Mockingjay part 2 is coming soon. It has taken pop culture by storm, first with the books and now with the movies. I will be honest, I am one of the millions who are anxiously waiting for Mockingjay: Part 2 to be released. But while I had my own personal Hunger Games marathon watching all 3 released movies in 2 days, I noticed a couple of themes I did not see the first time. So here is my list of what I learned from the Hunger Games:

True leaders will self sacrifice 

Katniss Everdeen was just an ordinary young girl in District 12 praying that her name would not be called during the annual reaping. Then the unthinkable occurred, her baby sister was selected as the female tribute for District 12 and would be forced to fight to the death against the tributes from the other districts at the 74th Hunger Games. Knowing the inevitable would result in her baby sister losing her life in the Games, Katniss needed to conduct the only courageous act that would save her sister’s life; volunteer to take her place. District 12 never had a tribute willingly volunteer to risk their life to save the life of another, yet news of this one act of selflessness and humility spread like wildfire.

Katniss’s name was not called at the reaping.  She was safe, but she willingly left her place of safety to sacrifice for another. In the same sense, we can think of Jesus willing to leave His throne on High to sacrifice himself himself for us on earth. The ministry of Jesus provides endless examples of self-sacrifice, such as healing the outcasts, forgiving prostitutes and tax collectors, washing His disciples’ feet, and ultimately risking his life. A true leader, like Jesus, leads by self-sacrifice.

Katniss never intended to be a leader, but her act of self-sacrifice automatically elevated her to being a courageous figure for others to look up to.

Do not let your opportunities pass by 

The day before the games, the tributes have one opportunity to display their talent in front of the sponsors – this is a crucial part of the games, as the sponsors have the ability to keep a tribute alive by providing needed tools. As Haymitch (Katniss’s mentor in the games) mentions, “I don’t know how else to put this: Make sure they remember you.” Katniss choose the patented bow to showcase her skills, yet against all expectations of hitting the bullseye, she missed. The sponsors began to mock the poor performance and immediately deemed Katniss as irrelevant as they continued with their self-centered party.

Katniss was at a crossroads. She was in a situation where the odds are heavily in the favor of her losing her life and impressing a sponsor could be the only way that keeps her alive, yet the sponsors were more concerned about their little party and luxury status than the human life of Katniss. She needed to do something to grab their attention, something…anything. After gazing the scenery, she noticed an apple in the mouth of the roasted pig on the buffet table where the sponsors were gathering. This one minute opportunity was the only one available, and she needed to seize it. She took her bow, aimed with a deep breath, and let it go. The arrow barely missed the sponsors by inches hitting the apple dead center to the amazement of them all.

Just like Katniss, there will be times in our life where the only possible opportunity may seem like the impossible. It is times like this where we need to stay focused, overcome our past failures, and seize the moment.

Jesus talks about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), where a wealthy man gives each of his servants talents (which can be thought of as coins – a “talent” was an ancient measure of weight) to invest while he is away. The first two servants are rewarded for investing their coins for a prosperous gain. However, the third servant was scolded for hiding his talents in fear of losing them instead of investing them. God has given each and every one of us an abundant talent. Instead of hiding this talent due to a fear of failure, let’s use our talents to seize the opportunities in front of us.

Hope is stronger than fear

In the rose garden, President Snow mentions to the game maker Seneca Crane that hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Snow then sheds some light as to why the Hunger Games has a winner instead of the Capital using force to control the masses, “a little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine as long as it’s contained.” Snow uses a false hope to contain the masses, yet Jesus preaches a true hope to empower the masses.

Ephesians 1:18-19 says, “I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, and how very great is his power at work in us who believe.” So what is this hope that we are called to? The verse continues to say “This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.” In John 10:10, Jesus says “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.”

This is our hope, that as we believe in Christ, God freely gives us the same power that He used to raise Christ from the dead, and through this power, we will live abundantly. This is the hope that is more powerful than fear, the hope that we have the same exact Holy Spirit that allowed Jesus to create all of His miracles, and through this spirit we are able to overcome fear and all of our challenges. 2 Corinthians 3:12 says, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” It is this power of hope that President Snow, as well as Satan, is afraid of.

Sometimes you just have to walk in Faith

During the games, Katniss finds herself in a dire situation where death is eminent; a fireball severely burns her leg, she is stranded on a branch of a tall tree, and the tributes have surrounded the base of the tree waiting for her to come down to kill her. Often times in life we will find ourselves in a situation where there is no way out. Yet it is times like this where we need to take a walk in faith.

In the Gospel, we hear of a story where the disciples are are on a boat in the middle of the lake when they are submersed by a massive storm. The waves are pounding; they are in the middle of the lake and there is nowhere for them to go. Then Peter sees Jesus miraculously walking on the water and he is asked to do the unthinkable; to take a leap of faith, get out of the boat and walk on the water to where Jesus is. Peter takes the leap and begins to do the unthinkable by walking on water towards Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:30).”

When we find ourselves in a dire situation, the first thing we need to do is keep our eyes on Jesus, take the leap of faith, and fight forward. There is a good chance we may fall as we take that leap of faith, just like Peter did when he began to sink and just like Katniss did when she was stranded in the tree. But when we fall all, we have to do is say “Lord, help” and Jesus is right there to pick us up and bring us to safety.

Katniss could have easily given up seeing her situation. But she did not quit and fought forward. At just the right time a sponsor came through to provide her with the needed medicine. Katniss then realizes there is a branch with a tracker jacket (killer bees) hive on it, she can cut the branch holding the nest, drop it on the pack of Career (enemy) Tributes and then escape to safety. When we feel we are in a situation where there is no way out, focus on Jesus, remember the hope we are called into, and ask God to reveal to us how we can overcome the situation with His help.

The Hunger Games continues to spread like wildfire. At first, the premise is unthinkable, that a government would suppress the people, slowly take away their rights, and force children to kill each other in a spectator sport. But there is another way in which we can view the movie. A way that sees a young woman who walks in faith, fueled by the hope of the suppressed, and through this hope she is able to conquer fear and do the impossible. Through our faith in Christ, we have a hope that we can be confident in. Hope does not mean we will never face any challenges, in fact are challenges increase when we walk in hope. But what hope does promise is as we keep our eyes on Christ, read the Bible, and follow His example, we will be guided to overcome every challenge and accomplish the unthinkable.

“To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of,” Ephesians 3:20.