If you knew, before their birth, that your child or one of your children would be diagnosed with a rare and unstoppable disease and you would endure the loss, would you still choose to have that child? In other words, if you knew that an opportunity to experience the incredible ability to love someone would result in heartbreak, would you still choose to love?
If you’ve seen the movie Arrival then you’ve been asked the questions above in a dramatic way through a cinematic experience. The use of aliens and the strange challenge to conquer a communication barrier, all while a mother appears to have reflections filled with sorrow, is the way Arrival uses suspense in order to connect with its audience in a very intelligent and very heartfelt way. We watch as Amy Adams’ character, Dr. Louise Banks, appears to have flashbacks of life with her daughter who contracted an extremely rare disease and succumbs at an early age. These flashbacks are woven throughout a present (but actually prior) crisis where aliens have visited earth in twelve strategic locations around the world. We learn that Louise, a linguist, learns to speak the language of the aliens while specialists from other nations only see the aliens as threats. However, the world is saved through her at the last possible moment and the world is changed forever.
It’s difficult for me not to see an analogy with the Gospel. God knew the future before creation and still chose to create humanity knowing they’d be infected with an unstoppable disease. Instead of a linguist saving the day God sends Jesus, the only one who can truly translate God’s love for humanity. The world has never been the same since. God still chooses to “have” children even though loss and heartbreak are clearly foreseen.
The heptapods (the aliens in the movie) appeared as a threat to most of humanity. It took a couple of brave souls to ignore the paranoia of the rest of the world. The world could only see the aliens as imminent threats. Every generation seems to have the same paranoia when it comes to Jesus. Who will be this generation’s brave souls who’re able to ignore the paranoia of the rest of the world? Who will choose to truly be loving humans regardless of the loss and heartbreak they will encounter in the world?
The opportunity to love is worth every bit of suffering this life can throw at us. However, Jesus, like the aliens in Arrival, in one aspect came to us from the future. Through Jesus’ resurrection, we can see the future and we can choose to love and actually hope because God assures us that loss and heartbreak will not be the end of our story. Our story begins when we’re able to see Jesus, the alien, and translate his language for ourselves and for others.