At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies. So break out the popcorn. It’s going to be an adventure!
Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.
Still Alice is a love story you won’t soon forget. Julianne Moore plays the part of Dr. Alice Howland, a highly acclaimed linguistics professor at Columbia University in New York. She has a thriving marriage with her husband John, a doctor played by Alex Baldwin, and her 3 grown children. The movie begins on a very festive note because it’s Alice’s 50th birthday and the family is celebrating this joyful occasion. But unbeknownst to Alice and the family she loves, Alice is sick. And her life is about to change dramatically.
Who is your best friend (other than your spouse), and what makes you like him or her so much?
Have a volunteer read James 4:13-14.
Alice’s whole life is defined by words and language, but because of early onset Alzheimer’s, she loses her ability to engage well with the very thing that defined her. She and those who love her undertake a very difficult journey. You may be in a similar season right now. Someone you love is fighting some kind of disease: Alzheimer’s, cancer, Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s, AIDS…
What is one thing that has happened in your life that has changed the way you viewed yourself?
Have a volunteer read Psalm 34:18.
There is a moment in the movie when Alice says, “I am not suffering. I am struggling.” One thing that makes Alzheimer’s and other diseases so difficult is how hard it is on loved ones. Sometimes the burden is far greater for the caregiver than the patient.
Alzheimer's caregivers frequently report experiencing high levels of stress. There’s social withdrawal from friends and activities, anxiety about the future. Sometimes there’s anger at the person with the disease, anger that no cure exists, anger that people don't understand what's happening, even anger at God, because this wasn’t how you planned your life.
Sometimes we think that if God loves you and you love God, something this bad won’t happen, but that’s just not true. Since the beginning of time Godly men and women have suffered sickness and disease. The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. But the Bible also teaches that God will never leave you, and you can never escape His love.
Have you ever experienced God’s presence in the midst of difficult circumstances in your life?
What is one circumstance in your life now where you want God to be with you?
Have a volunteer read Matthew 6:34.
Still Alice was based on a book of the same name, and in it Alice has a line that doesn’t appear in the movie: “My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain. So what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment.”
While a significant illness may make us dramatically aware of that truth, the reality is that it is true for all of us. Yesterday is gone, and none of us are promised tomorrow. Jesus says tomorrow’s not worth the worry.
It’s a reminder to live for God today. To love our family well today. To serve others today. To make the most of life today. That’s what Alice decided to do. She decided to make the most of what little time she had left.
What changes do you need to make in order to make the most of your life right now, to live for God and others in the present?
Have a volunteer read Philippians 3:20-21.
We are citizens of heaven. That’s where we belong. That’s where your loved one ultimately belongs. And when we are in Christ, one day God will transform our lowly bodies, our Dementia filled minds, our Parkinson’s ridden hands, our cancer filled lymph nodes to be glorious, healthy heavenly bodies.
When you think of heaven, what comes to mind, and what is one thing you’re looking forward to in the afterlife?
Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 13:13.
As Alice sinks deeper into dementia, there is a moment she asks her daughter Lydia, “What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?” “Then,” Lydia says, “I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”
Have you ever wondered why love is the greatest? Because, while you can leave a mark of faith, hope, and love on others after you pass from this life, love is the only one of the 3 qualities that’s going with you to the other side to life beyond the grave.
If you had faith in Jesus Christ in this life, you won’t need any faith when you get to heaven, because you’ll see Him face to face.
When you get to heaven, you won’t need any hope, because there’s no sickness, no tears, no disease, no Alzheimer’s in heaven.
But heaven is filled with love, because God is love, just as we see in Jesus. That’s why love is the greatest.
What is the greatest (or one of the greatest) acts of love you’ve ever experienced?
What are one or two practical, tangible things you can do to better love others?
Those who find themselves, like Alice’s husband John, as the caregiver of a loved one who is gradually fading away have to endure emotional, physical and even spiritual attacks that no human being is meant to bear alone. Caregivers need our encouragement daily, our love continually, and our unceasing prayers. We need to practice the “one anothers” of Scripture. Love one another (John 15). Serve one another in love (Galatians 5). Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 5). Pray for one another (James 5).
If there is someone in your group who is in a circumstance like this, how can your group rally around that group member to love and serve them?
If there is not, there is almost certainly a group member who knows someone in a circumstance like this. How can your group rally around that person to love and serve them?