Small Group Questions

At The Movies –  The Martian

Introduction:

How would you like to be stranded on Mars? That is what faced astronaut Mark Watney. Mark becomes stranded on Mars after an intense storm hits the planet. Presuming that he is dead, the remainder of Watney’s crew safely escapes Mars leaving him to fend for himself. “The Martian” is a survival tale, and as Watney faces the fact that he will have to live years alone with minimal supplies, he puts his survival skills and his ability to mentally face a life and death struggle and ultimately communicate with NASA that he is, in fact, still alive.

Something To Talk About:

If you constantly focus on what you don’t have, you will never fully appreciate what you do have. Another way to look at it is that we tend to focus too much on the obstacle rather than the opportunity. We need to remember that we may not always be able to change our circumstances, things that happen in life, but we can change the way we view and react to them. The movie The Martian focuses on the importance of focusing more on what we have, what we want to create, where we have been successful, and how we can leverage our strengths. Here are five ideas and insights that will help you get through your challenges and come out stronger and wiser.

  1. I have a choice: We always have choices in how we react to the challenges in our lives. Throughout the movie, Mark Watney wrestles with whether to take risks, which have the possibility of leading to his rescue, or giving up and facing death. Some of the best parts of the movie are those moments when he looks his own death in the face and chooses risk so that he can live. He made a choice. We too have a choice. We can’t always control our circumstances or control the things people do and say to us, but we always choose our own actions and behavior and response. We always have a choice. Always.  
  2. You have an experience to draw upon: No matter how difficult your trials or what their cause, God has given you wisdom and experiences to draw from. In The Martian, Mark relied on his training and his botany skills and experiences. While each of our life experiences are so different, we can learn a great deal about ourselves and grow into the person we wish to become by drawing on our experiences and the wisdom those experiences created. Hopefully we will always learn something with our life-experiences and become a little wiser every day.
  3. You have the capacity to make a plan: You can just sit there when facing challenges in life, or you can do something about it as Mark did in The Martian. Your response makes all the difference. Develop a plan or a strategy to address the challenge in your life. God obviously expects us to plan. Set your heart and mind on God as the beginning of the strategic planning process. Without question, it is God’s plan we want, not our own. Trust in God’s plan even when it doesn’t make sense. Whenever you decide to trust God’s plan, you can count on God to deliver on His promise to bring all of your circumstances – even the toughest challenges – together to accomplish good purposes. As God reveals His plan to you, simply follow it as well as you can day by day. 
  4. You have people who care: What makes “The Martian” a great story is “how” Mark survives on Mars for as long as he does, and how people respond to his loss. The good guys are good, and even the bad guys — and every movie must have some bad guy — aren’t really bad. Helping other people, keeping them safe, getting them out of danger, setting them free: these are all things that mean a lot to us. It’s a part of our humanity. One of the things that makes life so fulfilling, is the people that care about us, that love us. We may not have the whole world going to extreme measures to try and save us, as Mark did. But having people who care can make a significant difference in our lives. They will be standing next to you not only on the sunny days, but also on the rainy days. In fact, they’ll be the ones holding the umbrella over you. It’s not just about finding the right people to be around – it’s also about being the right person to be around.
  5. You have a God who loves you: The storm that causes Mark Watney to be left behind was a bad one and he was left by accident. Mark feels completely alone. But, he is already being helped and doesn’t realize it. This is very much like our life journey. We feel alone, like it is us against the world, only to discover that, in God’s wisdom and timing, things were set in motion long before we realized it. Often as we look at the pieces of our lives, we see the hand God was moving long before we realized it. You have a great God who loves you and cares about you. To know God and to grasp just a fraction of his immense love for you and me is to know the greatest mystery of life. It is so hard to comprehend that God is unconditionally committed to my well-being and nothing can separate me from His love: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways do you identify with the movie, The Martian? 
  2. What qualities about Mark Watney do you admire? 
  3. Have you ever felt trapped by your circumstances?  How did you deal with that?  Or, perhaps, how are you dealing with it now?
  4. What does it mean to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t? What does that idea mean in real life?
  5. What does you have a choice mean to you? Does it mean you have to be proactive rather than reactive?
  6. How can we leverage our hard-earned experiences and turn them into wisdom?
  7. How do you balance following God’s plan with making your own plans for dealing with the challenges in our life?
  8. When the Martian is found to be alive, the entirety of human civilization comes together to save him. When given the choice, everybody chooses the selfless and gallant thing, and we rejoice as a civilization when one man among billions finds rescue. What does this mean for us and those who are lost in and around Panama City? 

Take One Thing Home with You:

One of the most powerful moments in The Martian is when Mark realizes the sacrifices that people made to try to save him—million-dollar missions abandoned, countless overtime hours worked, months spent traveling in space. Here you have people who are sacrificing their time, their money, and their effort to rescue this one individual.

It makes me reflect once again on what it cost God to save us? God gave His only son to redeem lost humanity. That seems like an extraordinary price to pay to rescue me, and you. Every human being is made in the image of God and is therefore valuable and worth rescuing. God set the example when He came to rescue us. There is a line in the movie that hits home: “The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of billions of dollars, all to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?” When we reflect on ourselves, we might say, oh I’m just one dorky salesman, or student or fireman. Yet Christ saw us as worthy of rescuing, and the cost of our rescue was Christ’s life.

If you think about it, it would make sense to rescue the people who are smart, talented, who are valuable and will make significant contributions to society. Instead, God rescued a bunch of people who are rebellious, who sin, who want their own way, are mule-headed and slow to learn. And yet, God paid an indescribable price to rescue us.