Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:55 am | Fair 54º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Miracles From Heaven’

4 Stars — Inspiring

Few films explore the nature of faith more authentically than Patricia Riggen’s film Miracles from Heaven. Based on the true story of the miraculous, medically verified healing of Annabel Beam (Kylie Rogers), her journey from incurable disease to asymptomatic cure is as moving as it is miraculous.

Based on the book of the same name by her mother, Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) and adapted for the screen by Randy Brown, the story would be too unbelievable if it were fiction.

From the rare and fatal disease to the fall into a hollow tree that caused the healing, to the presence of an angel named Angela (Queen Latifah), to the disbelief and struggle of all involved as well as the skepticism of Christians in their own church, the truth is truly more inspiring than fiction.

When you add the verified diagnosis and asymptomatic post-healing testing by Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez), the leading physician in the United States in treating this disease, the story is more than a film experience, it is a journey of faith.

As a pastoral counselor (Denny Wayman), I find this journey so authentic that it could be used as a case study for pastors who walk with people on similar journeys as I have done for 40 years.

The film’s portrayal of the struggles to pray, to attend church, the insensitivity of other parishioners, the moment of tragedy when prayer is the only sensible response, the disbelief even in the face of miracles, the struggle with a loving God who allows death and pain — in each of these, the film magnifies and expresses both the mystery and the majesty of faith.

Although the church scenes and sermons are truncated, the worship and celebration of faith is also authentic.

In addition to the authentic presentation of Christian faith journeys, the film rings true to family life. Christy’s husband, Kevin (Martin Henderson), is believably presented as the only male in a female household and a Christian man who lives his faith in community and profession.

The struggle between Kevin and Christy that depicts the tension produced by the prolonged and terminal disease of a child is well presented, as is the sibling rivalry within the family. With sensitivity, Anna’s sisters Abby (Brighton Sharbino) and Adelynn (Courtney Fansler) are believably immature in their attempt to connect with her.

As has been known since Jesus did his first miracles, the fact that a miracle occurred does not always lead to a response of faith. Often such a setting aside of the laws of nature causes people to only question God more since such miracles don’t happen every time a child struggles with the pain of a terminal disease.

Similarly, when Anna claims to have gone to heaven and “talked” to Jesus, for those of us who have a deep personal relationship with Him have little question that this occurred since we do so regularly, but those who have never experienced such a personal connection with Him simply remain in their doubt. They will, as Anna simply says, come to that moment of belief when they are ready.

Since there are few films that reach this level of authentic faith, we highly recommend it both for the already faithful and the seeker.

If you are open to experiencing the larger reality that is life beyond life, then this film will help you experience once more the Easter reality when Jesus came to demonstrate that death is not the end, nor can it hold us captive. With Christians throughout the world, this truth that billions of us believe changes every day of our lives.


» In your own faith journey, what have been the moments that influenced you most? How has your faith grown stronger or weaker in those experiences?

» The fact that even Christians find it hard to believe in miracles is most basic in the doubts of Thomas when Jesus arose from the dead. Thomas said that unless he touched the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side, he would not believe that he had come back from death. Similarly, there were those in Anna’s church who questioned whether she was really that sick. Why do you think doubts are often our first response to the miracles of life?

» Christy’s testimony to her church after the healing of her daughter noted that all of life is really miraculous, from the goodness and love of family, church and neighbors, to the forgiveness and reconciliation that occurs among us. Do you experience the gratitude of a miraculous, forgiven life? And if not, how do you live in both good and bad times?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.