How You, THOR, and Bruce Banner Are Alike

Text: Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

For my daughter’s birthday, we went to see the movie Thor: Ragnarok. As he fights for survival and races against time to prevent the villainous Hela from destroying the Asgardian civilization (to a roaring Led Zeppelin soundtrack), Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. Here he finds himself in a savage gladiatorial contest against his former ally, Hulk. He must not only fight for survival, but must convince others who are hostile toward him that they can be part of a more heroic cause, including his sinister-prone brother, Loki. This is no easy task.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Thor is trying to explain the current reality to Bruce Banner, who is dazed and confused (sticking with the Led Zeppelin undertone) about his existence. Banner’s response is that he feels as if he has been thrown into a world that is intentionally designed to keep him stressed out all the time.

Maybe you’ve felt this way. One thing we can all agree on is that the story of our lives is less like Mayberry, and more like Sakaar, a place where we’ve crash-landed and must fight for survival. In the words of Job, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Fortunately, God gives us a survival manual for such a place.

In Matthew 6, Jesus has some comforting words for those who feel they have crash-landed on a planet rife with stress and anxiety. “Do not be anxious about your life,” he says. Then he guides his disciples to look at how natural things on this planet survive, such as birds and flowers. He asks, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Jesus told his followers that the Gentiles are anxious, essentially because they are focused on the world rather than His kingdom. The antidote to these unnatural predispositions to stress is found in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:32-33).

When we are dealing with a family crisis, financial hardship, health issues, conflict in the workplace, holiday stress, uncertainty about the future, or just feelings of being lost and alone, the pressure can be overwhelming. Yet Jesus invites us into a place of rest: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This place of rest is a refuge from the whirlwind of worry and panic.

God keeps those in perfect peace who fix their thoughts on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Wherever you may have crash-landed this week, remember that God offers a survival manual for those in distress. And in that manual He says “Fear not” (Matthew 10:31), and “take courage”—I have overcome this place (John 16:33).

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, sometimes the stress is overwhelming. In those times, help us to remember that there is nothing we will ever face that has the capacity to overwhelm you. May we find peace in knowing Jesus has overcome this world and in trusting in your faithfulness over every area of our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. Who is the strongest Avenger? A great debate for the kids!
  2. Have you ever felt like Bruce Banner, overwhelmed by a world set on keeping you stressed out?
  3. Why is it so easy to get preoccupied with our own needs and struggle to find rest in God’s faithfulness?
  4. How is God described in Matthew 6:32 and how should that find significance in our daily lives?
  5. What has God promised to those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? How will that be fleshed out in your life this week?

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