Breakthrough Movie Shows God’s Perfect Timing – In Film and Miracles

Last night, I sat in a private screening for the movie Breakthrough.  SSM Health – whose hospitals were featured as the backdrop for both the true events and the movie portrayal of John Smith and his family, had purchased an entire theatre to show their employees and guest for free. My wife – who works for SSM, was proud that she is part of a company that stood up for their values and mission through the telling message of this Christian based film. 

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The Breakthrough movie is about a boy, John Smith, who drowned in a St. Louis area lake and was restored back to life after 45 minutes without a pulse. In the film, Chrissy Metz – who plays John’s adoptive mother Joyce Smith, prays for the Holy Spirit to breathe life over her lifeless son and watches as his pulse begins to beat again.

The film weaves a path of revealing the truths of faith, family dynamics and our thought life through the unforgettable moments of these characters’ lives. One man, who didn’t believe in God hears a voice that leads to the discovery of the boy. A flock minded pastor is given an opportunity to focus on a single sheep. A mother and father are divided on what they believe the results of this incident will be. Hospital staff members struggling to understand the thin line between medicine and miracles.

The theatre was filled to near capacity with both men and women and there were times I could hear the emotion of those in attendance running through the aisles. Crying, sniffling and nervous laughter rang throughout the room. 

I have seen nearly every Marvel movie in crowded theatres over the last decade and not once have I heard and felt a crowd moved as dramatically as what I witnessed last night. My mind raced with thoughts. I am a Christian, but don’t always appreciate Christian movies. I sometimes find them campy or unauthentic. At the same time, I hope for more Christian films to be created.

Ultimately, I landed on this thought. God is very intentional about what films are released that carry the weight and message of the gospel to large audiences. There are not an abundance of Christian films hitting the theatres every year. Of those films, many of them will not make an major impact financially or culturally, however, a Christian film will be released every few years that touches hearts and lives in a way secular films never have.  

Breakthrough is that film today. Passion of the Christ and God’s Not Dead are also great examples of past films that revealed God to people in an authentic way.  Breakthrough won’t win any awards for best acting or effects. Neither will it stay atop the box office for months. Yet, in that theatre, I learned that the love of God can translate from the screen in a way no Oscar winning film ever could.

Seeing God touch individuals through a film is not an award that will ever be handed out by Hollywood even though that is the greatest feat a film will ever reach. 

There will be those who aren’t touched by this film. I have seen some secular articles and reviews online. They aren’t kind or rewarding. They downplay or dismiss the miracle of the story and persecute the actors and their scenes.

God didn’t make this movie for them, however, I do believe He made this movie with perfect timing for many others.  Breakthrough, like Passion of the Christ and God’s Not Dead before it, is the perfect film at the perfect time.  They were stories that spoke to a certain person in the audience – which is the unsaved seeker of Christ.

Before I saw Breakthrough, I would have told you it was a film for believers to spark our faith in God healing us today. I would have told you that the world will begin to see a lot more stories like John Smith’s and God is trying to prepare us to believe in them.  After the film was over, however, my thoughts shifted to seeing how these people in the theatre reacted and I knew that it was not made primarily for a believer like me. Instead, I knew it was intended most for those who did not know Christ.

The type of person God intended this film for was even depicted in the film as a fictional character named Tommy Shine. Tommy’s character played a firefighter who rescued John from the lake after hearing the voice of God. Tommy, however, didn’t believe in God and wrestled with the thought of what his faith in God was before and after this event.

Mike Colter plays Tommy Shine in Breakthrough

Mike Colter plays Tommy Shine in Breakthrough

There are people, especially in the health care industry, who struggle with the idea God being a healing tool as much as medicine. Faith is not often a prescription given by a doctor. Yet, there are times like in this story of John Smith where what you believe or don’t believe doesn’t change what the truth of what happened.  In these moments, you either have to believe miracles are possible or become so close minded that you trust your own thoughts more than factual evidence in front of you.

This story is perfect timing for a health industry to be shaken with the truth that God can heal. Miracles can take place. Much of the film, Joyce Smith reminds the hospital staff and visitors to speak life over the situation instead of constantly talking about the inevitability of death over her son. A timely lesson for our attitude of faith and trust in God when facing difficult situations.

Breakthrough is an authentic attempt for God to reach His people. To reveal a truth about himself. He revealed the truth about His Son Jesus in Passion of the Christ. He revealed the truth that the thinking of the world is not superior to His own in God’s Not Dead. In Breakthrough, God continues a trend of perfect timing when he delivers the truth that He can heal and perform miracles today.

There are those who will fail to believe God heals today or that miracles are evidence of Christ. There will be Christians who question these things because they prayed hard for loved ones to recover from sickness but later died from their illnesses. There will be unbelievers who see the actions of the highly qualified doctors and medical staff as the only people who saved a life in situations like this.

This film will probably not change their mind, however, there will be those who were on the fence about those issues. Maybe there is a person who isn’t sure about the realness of God or who isn’t sure about God’s power in our lives today. This film is for those people. This is an authentic message from a God in Heaven who loves His people. Those with an open heart to hear Jesus call to them and receive it will leave a theatre with a new level of faith that will change their lives forever.

People who are drawn to Christ through this film, or future authentic Christian films like it in the future, will not leave their seats thinking about the level of acting they saw or the lower level set designs. They won’t be worried about the dialogue of the characters and contemplating whether or not it was an award-winning script. Those people will leave thinking about the God that created them.

Those touched by God through the course of this film’s release will leave having an increased faith for the one that created them for a purpose. The one who loves them more than any other. The one whose message led them to tears and laughter in a movie theatre unlike any film they had ever seen.

God’s perfect timing saved a boy drowning in a lake. God’s perfect timing will also save the lives of many who see that story on the screen.  I hope this movie is perfect timing for you. If it is not, I pray the you live to be touched by God at the next movie or that you have your own personal encounter with God in the Bible, at church or through contact with other believers.

God has perfect timing to open people’s eyes to His authentic love. Are we able to recognize His voice? Or as Tommy Shine said about his own faith walk in the film, “Do you have a bigger problem on your hands?”

John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.


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