In January, my son and daughter and I went to see the movie The Grey with Liam Neeson. Overall, I thought it was a good movie. It reminded me of a Jack London story as it featured one of man’s greatest antagonists: nature. It’s a story about a group of Alaskan oil-rig workers who survive a tragic plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. They struggle against nature—the cold and the ravenous wolves—and against each other as they walk out of the wilderness to find civilization. The language was strong throughout the entire film. The f-bomb, in my opinion, was spouted with unrealistic frequency. Don’t get me wrong; I’d rather not hear the cursing at all, but in this film it was over the top, even distracting.
Everything about this movie is grey; the wolves are grey, the landscape is grey, the men’s future is grey and their situation is grave. The producers well portrayed the harshness of the Alaskan wilderness. Some will argue that they overly exaggerated the wolves’ behaviors. After all, it’s fairly rare for wolves to kill humans. In this story, they elevated the wolves’ threat and ferocity to almost mythic proportions. But of course this added to the suspense and drama. That said, there wasn’t a huge amount of blood and gore. Oh, did I mention that the ending is grey? No spoilers here.
This movie tackles some big questions: Can man outsmart nature? Are we alone here, having to make it entirely on our own? Any hope for an afterlife? Where is God and why doesn’t He intervene? In reference to that last question, we find one scene with Liam Neeson exhausted and in desperate straits. He’s lying on the ground and shouts up toward the grey sky, beseeching God to show Himself and deliver him. When God doesn’t answer or show up, he settles back down and mumbles that he will do it himself.
Haven’t we all been there? For many, it doesn’t take a barren, relentless wilderness setting to prompt a frantic plea to God. For some it happens in a quiet hospital room, as they watch the IV drip sustain their family member a few more days. It happens when parents bury their teenage son; a son who one day, decided to bring a revolver to his temple and say goodbye to the world. Why does God grant some a quick, painless death and others a slow, agonizing departure? Why does He seem to intervene with some and not others? What happens when God is grey?
We see these same struggles fleshed out in the characters of the Bible. To me this wonderfully substantiates the realness and genuineness of the scriptures. Men and women bled, fell, suffered, died and cried out to God in desperate times. Sometimes He delivered and sometimes He didn’t. I see no mythic figures there like a Hercules, a Zeus or a superhero. Job and David both cried out to God, questioning Him, searching for answers. John the Baptist briefly had his doubts about Jesus as he sat in a cell, waiting to lose his head. We are just like the men and women of the Bible; James 5:17 says so.
I wish I could offer a definitive answer—I guess the answer is kinda grey. In the end, we see that these men—Job, David, John—may not have always seen the delivering Hand of God, but they always trusted His heart. That is all we can do. Many marveled at the final words of Steve Jobs. I would rather lean on the wisdom of another man with a similar name:
Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42: 1-6
“… the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…”