Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a 13 year old competitive surfer with big dreams and a courageous spirit. Coming from a family of surfers, riding the waves is all Bethany can dream about. But her dreams turn into a nightmare after a sudden shark attack takes her left arm and her hopes of ever surfing again.
Soul Surfer is an inspirational film for the entire family about overcoming obstacles and turning tragedy into triumph. The movie emphasizes Bethany, her family and their Christian faith; being faithful to church and being positive role models.
There are people who go through tribulations that most of us cannot even imagine even in our worst nightmares. You might expect them to be crushed under the weight of the calamity that has befallen them, but many times they emerge with a victory greater also than we could imagine as well.
One such person that fits in this category is Bethany Hamilton. By now you’ve probably heard about, read, or are about to see her story in the film Soul Surfer. At only 13 years old, she was attacked by a shark and sustained the loss of her arm. And if that weren’t enough, she also lost the love and passion of her life – riding the big waves. A blow like that would be enough to discourage any young teenager from moving forward as she saw her future dreams burn up in the flames of catastrophe.
Or so you might have thought – but Bethany Hamilton gathered up the ashes of her dreams and offered them to the God who “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
And if you asked her today about her perspective on what happened, here is her answer:
“I try not to make a big soap opera out of the shark attack. I would rather focus on what God has allowed me to do in picking up the pieces of my old life and adjusting to parts that are new and different for me. Most of all, I want to use my story as a way to tell people about God’s story. It seems like he has given me the attention of the world for a moment, and I had better take advantage of it while I can.” (Soul Surfer, 2004).
How does someone who has undergone such trauma find the strength not only to move on, but allow herself to be used by God in amazing ways?
I would say it has a lot to do with her earthly father and her heavenly Father. In the film there is a scene that chronicles a conversation that took place less than two days after the attack. Bethany is still in her hospital room, and her father, Tom, is keeping a quiet and prayerful vigil at her bedside. When Bethany awakens, she looks to her father for assurance that she can overcome her tragic loss and get back to the sport that she passionately loves. Her dad encourages her with a reminder of a promise from her Heavenly Father:
Bethany: “When can I surf?”
Bethany: “How do you know?”
Tom: “Because you ‘Can do all things …’”
Bethany: “… through Him who gives me strength.”
Bethany claimed that biblical promise and God has given her the strength to do more than she probably ever imagined as she was lying in that hospital bed.
When God causes all things to work together for your good, the biggest question is: Are you willing to use your story as a way to tell people about God’s story?
- His story is about a God who loves His creation so deeply that He was willing to suffer more than any of us could ever imagine to open the way for heaven.
- His story is about a Father who was willing to endure the loss of His Son Jesus so we could spend eternity with Him.
- His story is written by the moments of our lives and the conversations we choose to have with our friends who don’t know about the amazing news of the gospel. They are the people whose souls need to be saved from a pointless and meaningless future.
Are you willing to be a soul saver?