When a storm blows up on that old Red Planet Mark Watney and his fellow astronauts have to escape doublequick before their rocket blows over. Just one problem. As they are running towards their spaceship a piece of equipment breaks loose and spears Mark in the gut, throwing him backwards and way way way out of sight. The team has to decide. Should they stay – or leave him and go. They don’t want to leave him behind, but time is short and they figure he must be dead. So, against their better judgment they go. Not long after this Mark wakes up, gets back to the space station, does a grimace-inducing bit of self-surgery and then takes stock of his rather lonely situation.
At one point in this movie Mark sums up his response to this impossible situation by saying something like, ‘What you do is this. You solve one problem. Then you solve another problem. Then you solve another.’ And for much of the movie we see him doing just that. Solving one problem after another. With a lot of potatoes and gaffer tape. He is brilliant and resourceful and resilient. He bounces back. Time and again.
It’s not easy to do that. To be resilient. Especially if you’ve already received a few knock-backs. When Joseph got sold into slavery in Genesis he threw himself into his work for Poptiphar and managed to bounce back. Then disaster struck and he found himself in prison – for years. Daniel prayed faithfully and found himself staring into a lion’s mouth. Jeremiah was thrown into a sludge-bottomed well. Many of the Biblical characters found themselves battling adversity in one form or another. It seemed to go with the territory. Jesus had to deal with oppression from the Romans, insults from the religious, and misunderstanding from his friends. Often those he loved did their best to steer him away from the path he was treading. Time and again he bounced back, and without any gaffer tape! Ultimately Mark on Mars needs his friends, and Jesus too relied on Martha, Mary and Lazarus, often visiting them to escape from the pressure. He went there a few days before he died, and found comfort and friendship which no doubt encouraged him to keep going into the difficult days ahead.