5 Lessons About Healing from The Shack


I sat in the theater, reclined my seat, and began eating the Trolli gummy worms I smuggled in. The previews were still rolling as I heard my neighbor unwrap what smelled like a God-awful bologna sandwich. Blasphemous! Regardless of her dining option, we both connected with our desire to have what the movie theater did not provide—outside food, and what we'd later find out would be a blessed lesson on healing.

I'd just finished reading the book, The Shack, in preparation for the film; both were incredible. But one of the most amazing things about the film was the sense of peace I felt upon leaving the theater. The lessons on healing Mack received had a different feel seeing them on the screen than they did when I read them in the book. And for those of you who need some of the healing power presented by this beautifully produced film, here are a few lessons about healing I learned from The Shack:

  • Healing requires confrontation.

    God (affectionately known as Papa; though ironically being displayed as a black woman played by the great Octavia Spencerhey girl!), penned a letter to Mack inviting him to the shack in which his daughter was molested and killed. Understandably angry, Mack asked God "why'd you bring me back here?", to which God replied, "because here is where you got stuck." Papa could've taken Mack anywhere to be healed. He could've been healed at his home. In the church. Or in the driveway where Mack slipped and hit his head before retrieving the letter. But Papa brought him to the very place that broke him. Sometimes that's how healing happens—smack dab in the middle of the very thing you need healing from. Sometimes you'll have to revisit that place, however dark and gloomy it may be. You'll have to relive those moments; that pain. You'll have to face those things you've tried to hide from. You'll have to confront those feelings, those demons, you've been letting fester and grow uncontrollably inside of you. Sometimes to heal, God will make you see the things you don't want to, and relive the moments that caused the most pain. Because in order to let go, you must recognize what to let go of.
  • Salvation and healing is an invitation to freedom.

    "We're so happy you accepted our invitation," said Jesus (represented by a middle-eastern man). Mack didn't have to go to the shack if he didn't want to. He didn't have to follow Jesus toward the more 'enchanted' part of the forest. Shoot, he didn't even have to stay once he got there. But he did. He chose to. He accepted Jesus' invitation to what he was unsure would become the most therapeutic weekend of his life. He accepted the longstanding invitation from The Savior, and you have the choice to do the same. Every day we wake up, Jesus gives us an invitation to allow Him to live through us. For us to pass our burdens unto Him. For us to cast our cares on Him. For Him to handle everything for us. For us to be saved and redeemed through Him. And every day that offer is extended we have the choice to accept it. To first show up at the shack, then to follow Him to the more enchanted parts of the journey...or to walk away. To pack it up and go home. To dismiss the process we're about to go through, and to go back to where we're comfortable. The choice to accept His invitation is yours. It always will be.
  • Stop trying to understand.

    Too often in our hurt, we want to understand the why. We spend more time trying to figure out why we've been betrayed, hurt, disappointed, failed, etc., than we do asking God to deliver us from it. More time praying for the answers to our questions, than we do praying ourselves toward healing. "You're trying to make sense of your world by a very incomplete picture." We'll never be able to understand. We only have 25% of the pieces (with no picture on the box) but are trying to figure out the whole puzzle. That won't happen. It never will. To heal, we have to let go of our desire to understand, and work to accept the healing offered by God through salvation and relationship. When we get out of our own wayasking all the whys and pursuing closure that may never comewe open ourselves up to God's will [hint: God's will is healing and restoration].
  • There is no such thing as pain-free.

    Anyone who has been healed knows that the healing process sometimes hurts more than the brokenness we needed to be healed from. So many of us expect healing to be effortless. We expect to wake up one day fully restored. Fully redeemed. But healing doesn't happen that way, nor does life. We're quickly reminded in the movie, many times actually, that nothing about our life's process is without pain. "You want the promise of a pain-free life? There isn't one."  God doesn't promise us pain-free. But what He does promise is everlasting life and prosperity; joy and peace; growth and healing.
  • Healing takes work.

    Like, real work. "You're not stuck because you can't, you're stuck because you won't," said The Father (God being represented as male for the first and only time throughout the movie). Do. the. work. Drop. the. pride. Be. willing. I literally dropped the mic at the end of that lesson.
The Shack showcases many biblical principles in as much of a real-life-application-kind-of-way that a fiction movie could offer. Faith that moves mountains, Jesus and Peter (or in this case Mack) walking on water, and Mack's exit from the cave, by way of a waterfall that signified newness of life (baptism). However, you don't have to be 'religious' to catch the feels (or the lessons) from this genius film. I encourage everyone to read this book or see this movie—whether you currently need healing or not.

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