Unlike some Christian-themed films, this one is in no way manipulative, coercive or sensationalized.
Not once will you feel “preached to.”
The director has done a masterful job of making this a film simply about the story of one boy’s painful childhood – and how God can use the pain and dysfunction in our lives on this messed up planet to create something extraordinary and, dare I say – joyful.
It’s not mentioned in the movie, but several times I reflected upon Joseph’s words to his brothers, “What you intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” (God transformed Joseph’s crippling pain into purpose and joy.)
In my opinion, Christianity wasn’t even the primary theme of the movie. Again, the director did a superb job of telling a story, allowing the audience to absorb the story at their own pace, and then, only if they want to, consider the spiritual implications.
What was the primary theme of the movie?
Bart Millard suffered deeply at the hands of his dad while growing up. When Bart was grown, his soul beaten and bruised, he had a choice to make – (1) live the rest of his life out suffering psychological bondage, driven by his hate for his dad, or (2) forgive his dad, regardless of how much pain he had endured.
And the director never once portrays forgiveness as easy. It’s a war in your mind and soul. The director gives complete respect to this truth.
All of that said, i offer this one caution:
If, like me, you suffered years of abuse as a child at the hands of a physically violent and verbally abusive father, the movie will most certainly be triggering. You will find yourself, like I did, weeping, gripping your chest and, at times, experiencing very real and traumatic flashbacks. You will want to have someone you love – and who loves you deeply (scars and all) – next to you. My wife, Michelle, held my arm the entire movie.
As I left the theater (emotionally exhausted), I told Michelle, “I’m so glad I forgave my dad.” (Read me story here.)
I can only imagine what my dad is doing now in heaven. Free from addiction. Free from anger. Free from his own pain.
And, because I’ve forgiven him, I’m free too.
“What (the stuff of life) intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” Christ wins.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick