Facing The Impossible

Posted: September 29, 2014 by jperritt in Drama, True Story
Tags: , , ,

impossible-posterI avoided watching this movie for a while, because a few people told me it was terrible.  However, they did not mean it was terrible artistically, or stylistically.  They would affirm that the acting was good, the story was good (it is based on a true story…even though we know how those often go).  They informed me that the movie was terrible, because of the pain that was depicted on-screen.

The Impossible follows the story of a family traveling to Thailand.  While the family is in Thailand, they become one of the thousands of people afflicted by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.  The film’s depiction of this disaster is remarkable.  The acting and special effects marry in such a way that will be deeply moving for most movie-goers.

At many times this movie is very hard to watch, but I would say it’s a necessary movie for Christians to watch.  Why would I say it’s necessary?  At least two reasons:

We Hate Pain

Now, this is an understandable reality.  No one in their right mind enjoys pain.  Pain is a result of the Fall, so mankind understands that something abnormal is happening when we experience pain.  However, pain is now a common part of life that is unavoidable until the return of King Jesus.  Even though Christians will hate pain, we must expect it, prepare for it, and know that God uses pain to grow us into the image of His Son.

Even though Christians understand that God uses pain to grow us, most Christians do everything in their power to avoid it.  Often times this is seen through our idolatry of comfort and pleasure.  Without a doubt, we are commanded to have joy, because of Christ’s finished work.  But, we must know that any comfort or pleasure we have is fleeting.  That is why I say this is a necessary film to watch – it assaults our idol of comfort.

Sharing in Suffering

Secondly, I think a film like The Impossible teaches us what it means to bear each other’s burdens.  As Christians we are called to share in Christ’s sufferings as we also share in his comfort (2 Cor. 1:5).  Instead of simply sharing an apathetic, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you.  We must share one another’s burdens and seek to feel the pain they feel – true empathy.

You know, when the Tsunami of 2004 hit, I’m pretty sure I didn’t pray once…maybe it was just once.  But, I can almost guarantee you it wasn’t heartfelt.  Watching The Impossible was deeply convicting.  It was a movie that exposed the selfishness of my own heart.  Why didn’t I pay more attention to those suffering from the tsunami?  Why wasn’t my heart moved to consider families that lost loved ones?  I was too fixated on my little kingdom and my little concerns to stop and consider what people around the world were going through.

The Impossible, however, grabbed my heart and mind and wouldn’t allow my mind to trivially consider the pain these people experienced – it brutally depicted it on-screen.  It was this brutality that convicted me of my prayer life.  Why didn’t I stop to consider what these people were going through?  What else was vying for my attention?  If I went through this, I would want others praying for me.

Something else struck me as I watched this movie on a Saturday night.  We typically don’t watch movies on Saturday, because they can sometimes distract us the following morning during worship.  However, it occurred to me that most people are watching/attending football on Saturdays.  I had watched some football earlier that day and football is often a great time of fun and fellowship.  But, I couldn’t escape the excessive indulgence often surrounded by football with the contrast of what I was watching.  At football there’s so much food at tailgating it’s often tossed in the garbage.  At football we gather to pour so much time, money, and energy into a game.

Please don’t misunderstand me, we don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying something like football – I enjoy football.  However, I couldn’t ignore the suffering in the film, just like I couldn’t ignore how much of our life we spend on trivialities in the midst of so much suffering.

So, I do think The Impossible is a film Christians would do well to watch.  It will assault your comfort, it will assault the pain-free life we often seek, it will convict, but it will encourage at the same time.  You see, the film gets its name because of the joy one family experiences in the midst of such tragedy.  However, when great tragedy strikes any of us we can often think, Why me?  I can’t believe this is happening.  In other words, this is impossible!  Frequently reminding ourselves that we don’t live in a pain-free world can assist us whenever we face the impossible.

 

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