A week ago, my family and I took a 10-year-old girl who is like family to us to see Miracles From Heaven, a film produced by T.D. Jakes, starring Jennifer Garner and co-starring Queen Latifah. It is based on the undeniably medical-science-defying incident that has believers and skeptics alike getting real cozy with the term, “miracle.” As I have written before, if you are going to try and convince me that miracles are not happening today, you are wasting your time. I have seen them, I have experienced them, and at the risk of sounding too testy, I am bullet proof when it comes to the unbelief of theorists.
Interestingly, the body of medical evidence prior to and after that fateful day in 2011 is so huge, that all that medical professionals can do is use the “medically correct” term “spontaneous remission” while they scratch their heads trying to explain what happened to little Annabel Beam.
Briefly stated, beginning at the age of four, Anna was embroiled in a 4.5-year battle with a rare digestive disorder that was literally killing her. Parts of her intestines would not systematically contract in order to pass her food down and out for elimination. Her belly was distended, and this child was in continual pain, building to the point that she was so worn out with it that she just wanted to die.
The yeoman’s efforts of her parents, the doctors, the community, strangers, her family, her church, and others in both the Fort Worth area of Texas, as well as Boston are to be commended. However, at the end of what seemed like “Annabel’s Last Stand,” she was sent home to die, because nothing they tried had worked. I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for all of them, and even though I knew that “Sunday was coming,” as a parent, it was hard to watch her and her family struggle without any hope that the pain would end on this side.
Then one day, Annabel had a rare burst of strength and joined her sister in climbing a 3 story cottonwood snag in their back yard. A branch began to break off, and in quickly moving to what looked like safety, she fell head first 30 feet down the trunk no one knew was hollow. She landed on her head, lay motionless and completely unresponsive in a fetal position, and the firefighters arrived thinking at best they were going to extract the body of a dead child without mangling it too badly. She was in the tree, (which is still in their yard), for around 5 hours, and during that time, she had the remarkable encounter with her Savior that is only one of the subjects of the book and the film.
Not only did Annabel live, (having suffered just a mild concussion and released from the hospital the next day), what is completely baffling is that since that time she has had no problems with eating, digesting or eliminating. All of it is inexplicable to the medical profession, and all of it is documented.
One of the things I appreciated about her parents was that they “stayed cool” when she began to talk about what happened in the tree. The first time was the day after the fall, while Anna was in the truck on the way home from the hospital that she began to talk about heaven and Jesus. She told about how much she had wanted to stay there because she was finally free of pain, and it was so beautiful. However, it was made clear to her that she had a job to do on Earth that couldn’t be completed in heaven, which I think is the most powerful take-away from the film: if you are still here, you have a job to do, so find out what it is, and get crackin’.
Her mom casually took notes on her Smartphone, and neither parent never probed or coached her because they did not want to inadvertently cause Annabel to embellish her story. Smartphone, and smart folks, and from the beginning, Anna’s story has stayed consistent.
I think Miracles From Heaven does just as good a job of addressing “the long night of the soul,” and the conundrum of unexplained, unrelieved suffering as it does the life changing effects of divine intervention. At the very least, no matter what you conclude after seeing it, Annabel and her story provide a true “Beam of hope” and that is something we could all use these days.