WARNING: Major plot spoilers below (past the jump) for the movie Arrival. But it also contains my reflection on how the movie makers created a work of art imbued with Christian meaning, probably without even knowing it.
What if you knew with an absolute certainty that you would give birth to a beloved child, that you would love them, that your life together would have heartbreak, and in the end you would lose them? What if you knew this because you live outside of time, that you experience it non-linearly? What if you knew the child would die young of a tragic disease and that you and they would suffer because of it?
Would you still get pregnant? Would you still have the child?
This isn’t just the question faced by Louise in Arrival. It’s the question answered by God with regard to His creation, us. God knows we will suffer and we will cause suffering. God knew He would suffer and die on the Cross for the sake of our sickness of sin, like a mother suffers on her own cross watching her child suffer sickness of the flesh.
Would you still have that child?
Yes. A thousand times, Yes. Because that child will live. She will live forever, past the sickness, past the wasting away and the tears. The pain and suffering of this life is a moment compared to eternal life. Isn’t that better than oblivion, than to have never existed at all?
God gave us life, knowing that we would suffer and die, knowing that Jesus Christ would suffer and die for our suffering and dying. Because eternal life is better than oblivion. And yet our own hearts are ripped and torn and bleeding.
The first 3 minutes of Arrival are an encapsulation of the joy and pain of parental love, almost a perfect encapsulation. “Come back to me,” we say over and over. Like Louise to her newborn baby and to her newly passed teen. We call to them from the time they are infants to when they are rambunctious toddlers to when they become independent young adults and sometimes to when they leave us too early for the next life. “Come back to me,” says the Father to us, over and over, from our beginning to the end of our life, across all of time, knowing our names and loving us from before we were born, knowing the tale of our lives, loving us back to His arms.
- arrival-1391_1.9be01c18007c42c7a02e66f263cc8ab9: Sony Pictures | Copyright by owner. Used under Fair Use doctrine