Firstly let me say this – I have not seen this film yet, it comes out in the UK in June. However, I came across these clips on a website called www.Wingclips.com. A website dedicated to film moments which inspire. I have read the book The Shack, and I found the first few chapters tough, this is a hard story about pain and loss. When Mack’s daughter is abducted and murdered he receives an invitation to visit a shack in the woods. Once there he meets God in the unexpected form of Papa.
The book was an unexpected runaway success, though when William P Young wrote it, he was only intending to share the story with his family and friends. He wrote the novel to explore the difficult questions that had arisen from his own troubled life. Perhaps that is what grabbed people – Young wasn’t shying away from asking the questions that so many ask – why is this world so bad if God is good? In The Shack Mack is full of these questions and when he meets God he is invited to confront and express his pain and heartbreak.
One of the things I find so helpful about the Bible is that it is full of people going through difficulty. It is not a book of shiny happy saints who lived perfect lives. The Book of Psalms is full of heartfelt cries of anguish and pain, questions about why this world is so broken. ‘Why do the nations rage?’ asks the writer of Psalm 2, noting that the people spend their energy putting together futile plans, while their leaders plot together against God. In Psalm 44 the writer asks if God is asleep, demanding that he wake up and do something about the perilous nature of the world. We see this echoed a little when the disciples find themselves caught in a storm at sea, a terrifying prospect, and yet Jesus is fast asleep in the boat. (Have a look at Luke 8 vv 22-25.)
Ultimately of course Jesus did not spend his time sleeping and, as Papa shows Mack, God himself endured the most terrible suffering, submitting to Roman scourging, beating and crucifixion. This is what is so shocking and extraordinary about the Christian faith, we have a God who has made himself small, weak, embarrassing and rejected. A God who changed everything when he died the death of a criminal. A God who did not look like a God at all. ‘In this world you are going to have trouble,’ Jesus said, and well he knew it. ‘But I have overcome this world.’ There are times when we long to see more evidence of that overcoming, we long to know so much more of God’s wholeness, peace and justice. But like the Psalm writers, and the disciples and Mack, we can take our darkest terrors to God, the one who has been there and understands.