Tonight, Tywana and I watch Miracles From Heaven, a movie starring Jennifer Garner. It’s about a little girl who is suffering from a terminal illness, has a NDE and is miraculously healed. It came recommended by some people in my NDE group and I’m surprised they recommended it since it looks like it’s probably one of those cheesy Christian movies with bad acting. It turned out to be pretty good, though.
There may be some spoilers below but really nothing more than you’d find in the trailer. The movie isn’t full of surprises.
Anna is about four years old when she starts having stomach issues. She experiences intense pain. She is misdiagnosed with everything from lactose intolerance to acid reflux. Finally, after nearly dying, she is diagnosed with a rare and usually terminal disease. Her family is facing not only her death, but financial ruin as the only doctor in the country who can treat her is in Boston and they live in Texas. In the movie, she spends about a year traveling back and forth. In real life, it was closer to five years. That’s one of the issues I have with the movie, they compressed the timeline- maybe so they wouldn’t have to hire different kids to play Anna and her two sisters, but it really takes away from just what this little girl went through. When she tells her mother she is ready to die to escape the pain, it makes a lot more sense when it’s been nearly five years.
Anna is back home playing with her sisters one day when they decide to climb a 30 foot tree like they did before she got sick. Anna falls down the middle of this hollowed out dead tree and lands on her head. She has an NDE and is told if she comes back she will be healed. She comes back and is healed. There are no more signs of her disease. Today, Anna is a normal healthy teenager.
The movie took a couple more liberties that I didn’t find necessary and one that I found really took away from the story. Christy, her mother, totally loses her faith in the movie. She stops going to church. A couple of “church ladies” approach her one day telling her that either she, her husband or Anna must have sinned. This is a pretty common doctrine still. It’s appealing because those who think they without sin are protected. If they tell themselves you’re sick or your child is sick because of sin, it’s a way of making sure it doesn’t happen to them. Christy is devastated by this notion and leaves the church. Christy says this didn’t happen. The other thing though is I think the NDE was underplayed in the movie. We get a glimpse of what Anna saw, but we don’t get to see her interact with the Spirit that sent her back. Also, they had her unconscious when pulled from the tree. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me because she was sent back into her body and told she would be healed. I don’t know of any NDE accounts when a person returns to an unconscious body (other than those under anesthesia). In real life, Anna said she returned to her body and a guardian angel stayed with her until they lowered a rope and she stepped into it so they could pull her out.
Whenever I watch a movie and someone goes to the hospital now and people are fervently praying and that person recovers, it takes me back to June 24, 2015 when I prayed as hard as I’ve ever prayed for God to just send Shayna back. The chaplain was with us by that point and he was praying for God’s will to be done. Damn God’s will. Just send her back to me. That’s what I was praying. But, there was no miracle from heaven for us. Anna was in the hospital with a little girl who was also very ill. That girl’s family were not believers. In fact, the girl’s father asked Anna’s mother to stop filling her with false hope. I don’t know if they were real people are not, but that girl died, while Anna was saved. I think this was a not so subtle reference to the Christian girl getting the miracle while the unbeliever perished.
The fact is we don’t all get the miracle and it’s not because we’ve sinned or not sinned or do or do not have faith. Some think the world is totally random. Doctors call Anna’s recovery a “spontaneous remission”. That’s only because they don’t like the word miracle. It’s a way of saying “We don’t know what happened.” I happen to believe that whatever happens was meant to happen. Anna could have died from the fall that triggered the NDE where she was told she was going to be healed. Was the fall necessary? Was the NDE necessary? Did she hit her head in just the right way to “reset” her system so that the nerves in her intestines that were not firing just started firing again?
Thankfully, I’m not caught up in regrets about what we could have done different or why Anna’s family got a miracle and we did not. I know that what is is what was meant to be even while I hate it with every fiber of my being right now. I believe that one day I will see how this entire thing was a miracle that has gone just as planned. Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight.