Less than a week before the governor of California ordered “shelter in place” for the entire state due to the coronavirus, my husband, Kevin, and I went to the movies. I was excited to support the opening weekend of the faith-based film, “I Still Believe.”
The film tells the story of Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp and his romance and subsequent marriage to wife, Melissa, before she died of cancer 4 1/2 months after their wedding day. While that doesn’t necessarily sound like the makings of a good film, the movie gripped me from the start and didn’t let go.
A well-told story, along with excellent acting and high production value, is probably why the movie has earned a 98 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the film (now available on demand ) has been criticized by some as being too sappy or too sad, I loved it. Here are three reasons why.
The film portrays a pure love story.
Based on Jeremy Camp’s memoir of the same name, the movie focuses on his romance with his first wife, Melissa, whom he met while attending college. Although the “love at first sight” scene portrayed in the movie may be a little unrealistic, the film showed a pure, godly relationship with its ups and downs.
According to the website MelissaCamp.com, “In 1999, Melissa met Jeremy Camp while worshiping at a small Bible study. They instantly connected and their story began. Shortly after dating, Melissa ended things so she wouldn’t be distracted from the plans God had for her.”
It was refreshing to see a couple who stayed out of bed and honored God with their love lives, yet still nurtured a beautiful romance. I was reminded of my own love story with Kevin, and how God swept away barriers to bring us together.
The film portrays realistic suffering.
Suffering in life and in marriage is inevitable but has high potential to glorify God. In the case of Jeremy and Melissa, suffering was always part of their marriage. Kevin Thompson writes:
Few people consider sickness and suffering when picking a mate. They consider how the other person might look in the morning or what bad habits they might have. They consider what offspring they could produce or what extended family they might bring to the reunion (sic). Yet few people ever consider what is a vital question — can I suffer with this person?
When Jeremy married Melissa, he knew she was dying. Though it was difficult to watch the pain this young couple experienced, it was also a beautiful testimony to one of the purposes of marriage — to love another person in sickness and in health.
The film points to the hope of Jesus.
For being a movie with such a sad storyline, “I Still Believe” offers boatloads of hope to anyone going through hard times. Jeremy and Melissa’s story is redemptive. Their relationship and short marriage impacted many people for Christ, including Jeremy himself.
Although the couple prayed in faith that Melissa would be healed, and even had a few weeks where it seemed this miracle had occurred, that was not God’s ultimate plan.
Without revealing any spoilers, God still had many good plans for Jeremy after Melissa passed away.
A story for hard times
Psalm 66:16 says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.” That is exactly what Jeremy has done in his memoir, and that is what this film has accomplished with excellence. I was deeply moved and encouraged by the movie. And perhaps the best part was when a message flashed up before the credits rolled, telling viewers how to connect and learn more about Jesus.
In an interview with the Baptist Press, Jon Erwin, the film’s co-director said:
“This film grapples with [the issue of why God allows suffering] … I think we forget so many times that there is a beauty, and a purpose, and a meaning in the difficult things we go through. And that sometimes God uses those things more than He uses the good things that happen to shape us, to mold us and to give us our voice.”
In light of current events, I could not think of a more encouraging message. I think many of us could use a reminder of God’s faithfulness through the struggles of this life, and the joy He can bring on the other side.
Copyright 2020 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.