When I heard the movie The Shack was coming out in theatres I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I read the book, and I loved it, but how would they fit the complexity of the book in a two-hour movie? First, there is Mackenzie’s (main character) rocky relationship with God. Second, there is the murder of his little daughter followed by his grief and his distance from God and his family. Third, there is Mackenzie’s encounter with God the father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And lastly, there is everything else he learns from each person of the trinity. It doesn’t get anymore complex than that!
However, the movie lived up to expectations by re-creating the beautiful story of a man reconnecting with his family, learning forgiveness, and trusting in God. The movie is deep, personal, raw, and it will most likely cause you tear up; nonetheless, you’ll leave the movie theatre feeling inspired and encouraged. Although a beautiful story, the best part of watching the movie was the incredible things I learned about God and life. The movie may not be a theologically sound in terms of the depiction of God, but overall, it provided clarity and sound teaching on many of life’s toughest challenges and questions.
Suffering in Inevitable
In the movie, a child abductor murdered Mackenzie’s (the main character) daughter and he questions why God would allow this type of suffering? Does He not care?
These are some questions that could harden our hearts, especially if we don’t know God or understand his nature. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, but we can’t blame God for it. Suffering is a consequence of sin, which we brought upon ourselves, and God is just trying to get us out of the mess. Secondly, people have free will so we can have the freedom of choice.
Love wouldn’t be possible without the freedom to choose, but suffering is a result of humans using free will for selfish reasons. These selfish reasons result in murder, selfish ambition, rape, exploitation, and similar vices. These vices are the main causes of human suffering. Yet, God still uses suffering for greater purposes such as building perseverance, refining character, and helping us to draw closer to Him.
God Understands our Suffering
There is a scene in the movie where God the father (depicted as a woman) shows her wrist to Mackenzie, revealing the nail piercings from the cross. This scene is important because it demonstrates that God fully empathizes with human beings. God became human in the person of Jesus and underwent every temptation that we experience; yet He perfectly endured. He also suffered unbearable pain in different ways:
- Emotionally when he was abandoned and betrayed by some of his closes friends
- Physically when He was flogged and crucified
- Spiritually when he was separated from His father
Jesus suffered excruciating pain, but His suffering was not in vain. In fact, Hebrews 12:2 says that for the joy set before Him, he endured the cross. Similarly, there is a greater purpose to our suffering, and in those times, we must remember that God cares for us and understands our situation.
Humans have Limited Understanding
In the movie, wisdom was personified as woman to Mackenzie. She answered some of the toughest questions Mackenzie had in regards to suffering, mercy, and justice. From the movie, we learn that there are certain things about life that human beings won’t fully understand. We are very limited in our comprehension. Just imagine an ant trying to understand how the mind and thought process of a human works. This example pales in comparison to our ability to understand God and the way he operates.
Isaiah 55:9 says that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways. Although we won’t fully understand everything in life, we can trust God because of His faithfulness to us despite the amount of times we reject Him and question Him. We can trust that He is good and has our best interest in mind even when it doesn’t make sense.
God Always has our Best Interests in Mind
Despite the suffering and great loss Mackenzie experienced, he learned that all God had his best interest in mind all along. He learned that God loved Him beyond understanding, and all God wanted was for Mackenzie to trust Him and love Him back. God helped him to forgive his dad (who beat him as a boy), to reconnect with his daughter and his family, and to forgive the man who murdered his daughter.
The story of humanity is really the story of God pursuing us relentlessly and rescuing us from imminent destruction. He gave up everything for us. He became a man and endured ridicule for us. And ultimately, He died for us so that we can have a new life here on earth, free from sin, empowered by grace, and assured with a hope of spending eternity with Him. What more can we ask for?