Friday, March 9, 2012

". . . it can be good again."

A new movie called The Hunger Games will be hitting the theaters in America this March. You can watch the official movie trailer here. The movie is based on the best-selling novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and is the first in the Hunger Games trilogy, which includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The Hunger Games takes place in a futuristic America-like setting, referred to as the land of Panem, which is divided into 13 districts. The Hunger Games themselves are all-district events in which each district randomly selects a male and a female child below the age of 18, and all the chosen participants are then put into an “arena” of wilderness where the goal is to kill each other off and be the last one standing. The story follows the adventures and life of the protagonist, a young girl named Katniss.  

Without giving away too much of the story, the end of the third book, Mockingjay, finds Katniss married and living out the rest of her life with the man she loves. Both of them also appear to experience severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout the books, and the author implies that both of them continue to suffer from it for the rest of their lives due to the trauma they were forced to experience. Yet despite all of their immense pain and loss, and although they do not experience relief from their suffering and trauma in their earthly lives, the book ends with goodness and hope, through the words of Katniss herself—“What I need to survive is not fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

By reading through the previous two books, one comes to know that the color yellow and the dandelion represent the man whom Katniss eventually marries. Katniss and the man she marries find hope and goodness again through their relationship with each other, even in the midst of having lost everything and endured unimaginable suffering. Those closing words had a huge impact on me when I first read them, and recently they have reminded me of a book we have been reading in class called Connecting by Larry Crabb. In this book, the author illustrates why he believes that the most effective medicine for suffering is connection—connection to each other and connection to God. He states his beliefs quite simply—“We were fashioned by a God whose deepest joy is connection with himself, a God who created us to enjoy the pleasure he enjoys by connecting supremely with him but also with each other. To experience the joy of connection is life; to not experience it is death to our souls, death to our deepest desires, death to everything that makes us human (p.55).”

John Piper and Justin Taylor, in their book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, tell us of the great lengths our God went through because He so strongly desired to connect with us--“People who suffer want people who have suffered to tell them there is hope. They are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the reason that Jesus suffered in every way that we do, while he was here. 1 Peter 2:21 says, ‘This [your] suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps.’”

Our lives will not be perfect on this earth. There is no “magic” cure for our problems while we are here—that is, if we define cure as “relief from all suffering.” But perhaps relief from suffering is not the goal; perhaps our connection with God and with others is the goal we are meant to be gazing upon. Like Katniss, we may suffer unbearable pain. Some of us may even live the rest of our earthly lives with the terrifying symptoms of PTSD and the blood-red horror of our memories. But we have hope. We have a God who came down to earth to suffer unimaginably for our sake, so that He could connect with us in our pain, and so that we could connect with each other through the comfort that He gives to us. When we see the bright yellow of a dandelion growing in the ground, may we all be reminded of rebirth, of the Resurrection, and seek with our whole hearts our God who gives us hope.


  1. Well said, Chelsea! I came across Romans 12 recently, and I was reminded of just how much God cares about our relationships with others when I read in verse 10 (NIV), "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Sometimes I cannot help but wonder how little work mental health professionals would have if everyone had even just one or two people they felt genuinely loved and cared for by. It is my firm belief as well that God created us for relationship with Himself and others because it is in relationship where eternal impacts are made.

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  2. I think you are on target in that Jesus died so He could connect with us in our brokenness. In a different class yesterday our professor explained that life can be like the story in the Bible where Jesus calms the seas. The Father wanted Jesus and the disciples to reach the other side of the water. Regardless of the storm, they would have reached the other side because it was God's will. It would have been better for the disciples to lay down in the boat and sleep out the storm like Jesus trusting that God's will was being done rather than fighting against the trials of life, the waves, and trying to have a smooth crossing. Jesus was with them through the storm, but He wasn't worried about it because He saw the bigger picture. He realized though that the disciples needed help and were not strong enough to whether the storm, so He stopped it. God will never give us more than we can handle, and promises to be with us through all of the storms of life.

    Please note this isn't written to diminish PTSD or say the those affected bring it on themselves for lack of faith.

  3. I have also read The Hunger Games and was very inspired by how you connected these books to the idea that through suffering there is still hope. That is one reason why Jesus’ living on earth was so amazing. He did not come here and live the way He could have, as a king, to want for nothing. However He did not chose to live that way, he chose to live a life of poverty and suffering a death he did not deserve. I believe He chose to live that way because He wanted us to know that he truly knows what life on this fallen world is like. It is one thing to image what suffering is like but it completely different actually going through it. I have found in my own personal relationship with the Savior that knowing he experienced the same emotions is a great comfort to me doing hard times. I agree that people who have suffered take comfort in those who have experienced suffering but have healed or lived through it. We were created to be relational being and is that not what counseling is all about. Talking, having a relationship with someone who cares about what you have gone through. To hear that there is always hope.

  4. Well said Chelsea!
    I particularly liked John Piper's quote that those who are undergoing tremendous suffering seek to hear that there is hope from those who have already undergone suffering and have successfully overcome. I loved Crabb's book and believe that our God-given desire and need to connect with others, with ourselves, and with God, is especially evident during times of suffering. It is true that our savior took the ultimate suffering upon himself so that we may have a restored relationship with Him. I think that our relationships and connectedness with Him and with others can be the stronghold that gets us through and allows us to see that it can, in fact, be good again.


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