In theatres this month, The Unbreakable Boy is a faith-based film that shares the true story of Scott (Zachary Levi, American Underdog) and Teresa LeRette (Meghann Fahy, One Life to Live), whose son, Austin (Jacob Laval, The Plot Against America), was born with a rare brittle-bone disease and autism. Based on Scott’s book of the same name, the film chronicles the family’s struggles and triumphs through Austin’s medical setbacks and educational challenges.
The Unbreakable Boy is Austin’s story, but just as much, it’s Scott’s. Life just hasn’t turned out the way he thought it would. Not only does he have a son with serious medical issues but he also struggles with addiction to alcohol. These circumstances are the one-two punch of failure and regret in Scott’s life.
“This is not what I thought it was going to be like,” he says. “I feel like I’m failing every day, and the harder I try, the worse I do.”
Scott can’t stop his son’s bones from breaking. He can’t prevent the bullies from teasing Austin about his funny hats and his over-the-top enthusiasm for life. Every part of his life is a fight, from staying sober to persuading the school to allow Austin to learn in a regular classroom.
When Austin tries to befriend the boy who bullies him, his family wonders why. All they see is a mean bully, but Austin sees the sadness in the boy’s eyes and wants to help him.
Scott can’t believe it. He has always viewed Austin as broken because of his medical issues, but he is starting to realize his son’s indestructible optimism has made him strong, virtually unbreakable.
What does this mindset shift mean for Scott and his own internal battles? Will he ever be able to forgive himself for past failures and experience joy in the present moment, despite life’s challenges?
Scott knows that it would be normal—even expected—for someone with Austin’s problems to feel unhappy much of the time. But Austin has a gift for finding the bright side in every situation.
“I wish I could enjoy anything as much as my son enjoys everything,” Scott says. “For Austin, every day can be the best day ever. You just have to be able to see it.”
But that’s not easy. In this world, our problems can feel overwhelming and blind us to the good things that are still in front of us. Health issues, family problems, financial concerns—the list of potential worries can seem endless. God knew that we would face struggles in this life, but the Bible still instructs us to rejoice and be glad each day (see Psalm 118:24).
How can we rejoice when everything is going wrong in our lives? Because joy isn’t about our circumstances. True joy comes from the Lord and the hope He offers us. No matter how many challenges we face in our lives, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (see Romans 8:37).
In other words, Jesus’ death and Resurrection was a victory over sin. He offers this victory to us as a gift, and when we accept it, it becomes our victory, too. It erases our past failures and gives us the promise of eternal life.
The best way to feel more joyful each day is to focus on gratitude. Giving thanks in all circumstances isn’t easy, but it reminds us of God’s unbreakable promises to us, in this life and the next.
Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate Films
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