Do you think of the heroes of the faith (from the Bible) as real people? Job is a man whose story hit me hard when we were in the midst of the getting the TWR Benin transmitter in West Africa up and running. In a very short time, I lost five people close to me from a variety of causes. The work was going well, but the grief stole my joy. And just like Job, I questioned whether God was sending us a message and we were simply refusing to listen.
I spoke with a close pastor friend who reminded me that these stories are in the Bible because people are still dealing with these problems. I didn’t face the number or severity of losses Job did, but his response to the chaos and loss in his life sure helped me through my own struggles.
Lisa Wilson is on staff here with TWR Canada, and she brought this post to me to consider posting on the blog while I’m on vacation with my beautiful wife. Her story reminded me of that experience and got me thinking. Lisa brings new perspective to the story of Noah. Maybe this story will get you thinking too?
Take it away, Lisa.
Did you see the June 2014 movie Noah starring Russell Crowe? There was a lot of heated debate about whether Christians should go and see the movie or not. There will be more biblical movies from Hollywood – we already know there’s a Moses movie coming out in December. I’m not super good with rules (don’t tell Ray), or with being told what to think – so I went and saw Noah for myself.
Whether or not the director took too many creative liberties with the Noah story, I’ll leave that with you to decide. I enjoyed the movie because it gave me a new appreciation for Noah as a man. You grow up hearing the stories of the heroes of the Bible and it’s easy to separate the man from his times, from his social context. To leave them hanging on the ole flannelgraph board and forget they were real people.
The Bible doesn’t always explicitly tell us, but I’m sure David, Noah, Joseph, Daniel, Isaiah, Moses, Abraham – had doubts, they probably forgot to buy milk on the way home from work on occasion, or bought their wives the ancient equivalent of a vacuum cleaner as a birthday gift. You get what I’m saying? They were human! Noah wasn’t just a movie for me, it was history. (One man’s attempt to fill in the gaps in the story at any rate.)
Where the movie excelled, for me, was in portraying Noah as a real person not a paragon of saintly virtue who never grew angry, misspoke, or needed to repent of anything.
I was hit between the eyes by Noah’s understanding of his own sinful nature. He struggled with the question of what made God choose him? He looked at the people around him, saw their sinfulness, and realized he was no better. Every single human on the planet fell short, not a single one measured up to God’s holy standard. Not even Noah.
Now, you can point out his lineage, his faith – all that’s well and good (and valid points), but as Noah huddled with his family inside that ark and listened to people screaming for help (possibly for days) I found new empathy for this character. I imagine him sitting in the ark, a foot braced against a beam to keep from being knocked around by the waves, holding his wife and staring at his children as tears streamed down his wind-burned cheeks. Asking God for help to understand what just happened.
I am no better than them. I don’t deserve to live.
How could any moral, good person live through that kind of cataclysmic event and not have some degree of survivor’s guilt? If you were in that situation could you really brush your hands of humanity and shrug your shoulders. “I warned them.”
Good grief! I can’t even watch those heart-wrenching Humane Society videos – I just want to go and rescue the whole lot of them. Perhaps Noah found comfort in having his family nearby, or caring for the animals he’d been entrusted to save. I don’t know.
But I know he was a real man, and how does anyone survive that and not be utterly and irrevocably changed for good and bad? We don’t have any family nearby, so I often feel like I’m on my own as a parent and a Christ follower – but Noah really was alone! The lone family patriarch charged with starting over. Makes my heart heavy just thinking about what that would be like.
The rainbow brought on new meaning for me. Imagine what that promise meant to Noah and his family? And now fully embrace the realization that God continues to keep that promise He made to Noah. What’s more, God promises He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Amazing, right?
Who’s your favourite character from the Bible? What about their story has encouraged you during tough times?