Restoring shattered faith “The Shack” way…

The book (and movie) The Shack is a fictional tale about a Dad whose daughter has been kidnapped and killed, and how God answers the Dad’s question, “Why didn’t you (God) stop my child being killed?”

God answers by arranging a meeting with the Dad in the shack where the girl was killed. Dad gets to watch God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in action and communication together, and he’s able to interact with them personally. As the story progresses, Dad shares happy meals with the Trinity, he walks on water with Jesus, shares mystical experiences with the Holy Spirit, meets his dead father, sees his dead daughter at peace, and later on he’s taken by God to the cave where his daughter is buried. And finally, after all this has been done, Dad’s shattered faith is restored.

It sounds very much like restoring faith by sight, because it’s only after the Dad has had visions, seen his dead relatives and talked with God that his faith is restored. And that made me wonder what a child or a new Christian might think when there’s a tragic death in the family and their faith is severely tested too: Will they now think that God will do for them what he did for the Dad in The Shack? Will God also provide them with mystical experiences, one-on-one conversations with them, and arrange a meeting with the person who died?

Think of the child who asks, “Why didn’t God stop my Dad being killed in a car accident?”, and that same child then reading The Shack. Will he think, “Oh, so that’s how God works, is it?” But what if God doesn’t answer that child The Shack way? What if there are no touchy-feely experiences with God in answer to Dad’s tragic death? And what if God doesn’t allow the child to meet his Dad and see that he’s at peace?

I can see why Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It’s a greater blessing being able to trust God without the need for anything visual, real or imaginary. But where does that kind of trust come from?

Fortunately, The Shack answers. It comes from the Spirit. It’s after many conversations with the Spirit that the Dad’s shattered faith is restored. The book may start with faith by sight, then, but eventually it zeroes in on where trust in God really comes from. As Paul wrote in Galatians 4:6, it’s the Spirit who brings us to love for and trust in God. So The Shack is really about restoring shattered faith “The Spirit” way.

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