From Affirm Films (“Heaven is for Real” and “Risen”) comes another inspiring testimony: “Miracles from Heaven.” “Miracles from Heaven” is based on the true story of the Beam family as they encounter God’s unfailing love and constant presence during an incredible journey from hardship to healing.
How do you explain the impossible? How do you explain… a miracle?
The question is posed in the opening monologue by Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) as she begins to narrate the riveting journey that her family would soon embark upon. Christy and her husband Kevin (Martin Henderson) have three precious daughters and what seems like the idyllic life. At least that is until their ten-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is struck with a rare, incurable disease. As their community is rocked and Christy’s faith is shaken, the Beam family is portrayed in full transparency and vulnerability as each family struggles and copes in their own way. But in the midst of the overwhelming despair and suffering, a freak accident brings with it an extraordinary miracle.
Get ready for a sob-fest
Bring a box of tissues; you are going to need them. There was not a dry eye in the theater when my wife and I saw the screening. And it is not just a one-time deal with an emotional scene or two near the end. No it is a full-on emotional roller-coaster where you are brought into the raw tragedy and extended awkward silences of a family witnessing the slow deterioration of a loved one. Characters struggle and as the viewer you begin to struggle with them. Why? Why would God let this happen to an innocent young girl — to a family that loved and served Him? The questions are cried out and shouted. The answers are seemingly silent.
The overall framing of the film is impressive and often allows the story to be told without words. One frame will look up towards heaven from the perspective of the characters. The next frame will look back down towards the characters. In this, the viewer is able to see through the eyes of both the Beam family and of God. Through the eyes of Christy, we look up to God with doubt and longing. Then through the eyes of God, we look down with empathy and compassion. We feel that God too is suffering even though we do not understand the bigger picture of why.
In a surprisingly non-campy way, the movie narrative provided its own commentary as intermittent scenes show the local pastor preaching on the themes of faith and doubt. He discusses how faith is ultimately the only true shelter from the storms of life. In the midst of uncertain days there is only One that we can be certain of. There are so many things we do not know, but the one thing that we can trust is that God loves us. At one point, little Anna cries to her mother, “Don’t you understand, it hurts all the time? I want to die!” It is the same cry we have all given God at one time or another. “God don’t you understand? This life hurts all the time!” And God looks on us with tears in His own eyes and says, “Yes, my child. I know it hurts. I feel it, too. My Son has felt it all. But no matter what — I love you. And I am here through it all. I’m not going anywhere.”
By the end of the film, you realize the true message: miracles are everywhere if we just have the eyes to see. I absolutely loved the way the film ended. It is sort of the way I had been hoping “War Room” would have ended. One of the final scenes showcases a montage of earlier scenes but now from a new vantage point where we can finally see the miracles hidden by the mundane. You finally see that what happens to Anna — as remarkable as it is — was not the only miracle. Everything begins to glow with the fingerprints of God as you ponder your own life and are overcome with humble gratitude for the miracles all around.
“I didn’t always see God’s hand in the tangled threads of my life, but now I do. He was there in our beginning and every time our world fell apart. He’s with us now and into the unknowable future. Standing in the light of all He’s given us, in the light of that’s happened, I can’t not tell you our story,” said Christy Beam, author, “Miracles from Heaven.”
My biggest complaint with this film has nothing to do with the actual film: it is the trailer. I do not understand why some movie companies feel the need to spoil every story point before the release, but this one unfortunately does just that. Let me encourage you, if you have not already done so, please do not watch the trailer before watching the film. But yes, please do go watch the film! The supporting cast is a little weak and the time frames are a little confusing (sometimes you are not sure exactly when things are happening). Earlier scenes are at times awkward as the cast had not gotten comfortable with each other yet. But besides that it is an overall strong performance from backstage crew to the onstage cast. We want to support groups like Affirm Films to continue making high quality productions.
The film also co-stars Eugenio Derbez (Dr. Nurko) and Queen Latifah (Angela Bradford) who is great but essentially plays the same character as she does in all her films: herself. There even seems to be a nod to her starring role in Taxi (2004). Directed by Patricia Riggen, the film also includes the band Third Day as the church’s worship team and features songs from their most recent album. “Miracles from Heaven” hits theaters Easter (March 18) 2016. For more info visit: MiraclesFromHeaven-Movie.com
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 9:10, NIV).
Finley is a freelance writer and doctoral student at SEU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org