Film Review: Miracles from heaven

Production companies: Affirm Films, Roth Films and Franklin Entertainment

Distributed by Columbia Pictures

Release Date: February 21, 2016 (Dallas) and March 16, 2016 (United States)

Running time: 109 minutes

Reviewer: Chidimma Nnagbo

 

There are a lot of questions that defy answers. One of such questions is why we don’t receive everything we ask of God at the time we ask for it. Is it the result of our inadequacies or God’s mysterious ways? Most Christians consider these kinds of questions abominable and faithless, either because they have never been in situations that stretch their faith past its elastic limit or they have attained a certain level of faith no amount of earthly difficulty and emotional stress can waver.

Miracles from Heaven is a 2016 American Christian movie directed by Patricia Riggen, written by Randy Brown and produced by DeVon Franklin, T. D. Jakes and Joe Roth. It is based on a book by Christy Beam which tells the true  story of a heart-wrenching situation when God seem far away and non-existent. The film was released on March 16, 2016. T

The movie starts with a picture of a happy Christian middle class family. Jennifer Graner who seems to have no troubles switching from core action movies to love movies to now Christian movies played the role of Christy Beam, the mother to 10 year old Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) who had a rare, incurable disorder that leaves her unable to digest food.

Christy Beam on recommendation tracked down a doctor who specialized in rare conditions like Anna’s but couldn’t get an appointment to see him since there was a waiting list of patients. Dejected and sympathetic of her daughter who was in severe pain, they left the hospital to a restaurant where they met the delightful, energetic and kind-hearted Angela (Queen Latifah). Angela brings a little humour and comic relief to the story as she does in most of her other movies. She befriends Anna and her mother and offers to take them on a tour round Boston and to see the Aquarium which she had missed visiting back home because of her sickness. In one funny scene, Angela had to Jack her dilapidated car door open using one leg and two hands in a frantic fight.

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Angela with Christy and Anna Beam

Finally, Anna got an appointment to see Dr. Nurko (Martin Henderson) and after series of trials nothing could be done to help Anna. Anna had a roommate in the hospital, Hailey, who had cancer. She told Hailey about Jesus and spoke about the fact that he’s always present with her. Hailey believed; but Hailey’s father warned Christy to stop her daughter from giving his daughter false hope.

Things were quite bad at this point. The pain was so excruciating Anna wanted to die. Her mother had lost faith in God. They didn’t even have the finances to continue with the treatments. Dr. Nurko advised her to take her daughter home.

Back home, some people in church told Christy Beam her daughter’s condition may be as a result of her or her husband’s sinfulness or even Anna’s. This infuriated her and she stopped going to church. A dark shadow was cast over the family of 5. She had prayed, cried and begged God, yet nothing changed and her poor innocent daughter was still suffering with an enlarged abdomen and severe pains.

The turning point of the story was when Anna fell into a tree while playing with her sisters. A rescue unit  got her out after several hours. Miraculously, she was cured of her sickness after the fall. Her abdomen returned to its normal size, and she could eat without tubes. Later on, she told her parents that while she was in the tree, she left her body and that she saw Jesus and that Jesus had told her that she would be okay.

The part I consider most interesting in the movie was Christy coming back to church. The media came to cover the service as Anna’s story had gone viral. Christy stood at the pulpit and made a very honest speech. She said when Anna got sick she couldn’t understand why such a devoted God-loving little Anna was going through what she went through. She felt alone and angry that their prayers weren’t being answered. She quoted Albert Einstein ‘“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” There was a flashback of how extraordinarily they got an appointment to see Dr. Nurko, they met Angela,  who brought a little laughter to their faces in the midst of their hopelessness, her husband got a free flight ticket to Boston for himself and Anna’s sister when they had no money. She said she was blind to those little miracles.

She asked one crucial question: “why was Anna healed when today around the world, there are so many children suffering?” She admitted she didn’t have an answer. But as far as she was concerned, those who suffer are not alone in their hurting state. God remains with them through their travails.

The movie stands out because of this: while God’s power was clearly and gloriously shown, questions in the mind of Christians were not sidelined and covered with empty speeches and acts. The acknowledgement that everything isn’t always perfect was captured, yet the presence of an omnipotent God was also evidently displayed.

©Chidimma Nnagbo, 2019

MUSIC REVIEW: RECKLESS LOVE by CORY ASBURY

Artiste: Cory Asbury

Album
: Reckless Love (2018)

Label: Bethel Music

Reviewer: Chidimma Nnagbo

Cory Ausbury joined Bethel music in 2015. He released his ‘Reckless love’ in 2018 which hit it big. According to Kate Nutshell, ‘when worship songs make it big, they also get subjected to a degree of theological scrutiny, and some have questioned whether the message of the hit song misrepresents the nature of God’s love’. There has been criticism of the song’s title, ‘reckless love’. A wing of the criticism says ‘God loves us with clear and thoughtful intention’. Another wing says “Reckless Love became popular because it is a catchy tune that speaks to all of our human desires to be loved and known”. Cory Ausbury in his defence said in an interview, “I see the love of God as something wild, insane, crazy.”

On hearing the song at first, it may not hit any serious chord till you listen to the lyrics. It’s Rock genre is somewhat soft. It goes from soft intensity to a strong intensity and back to soft again. It feels like the music comes alive when the lyric is understood. The lyrics are strong and deep; they drive right into the heart and mind. The words can hardly be dismissed. It conjures feelings deep happiness that bring tears to the eye. Personally, I think the description is strong and beautiful and I felt the human buildup is incapable of mirroring such love with the same intensity. It is sad and I wanted to love more. Feel more. Do more.

In verse one, God’s sovereignty is described; the way that he first loved us, without us doing anything to earn it. His love was before our existence. Then he launches into the mind blowing chorus.

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”
 
He describes God’s love with 3 magical words: Overwhelming, never-ending and reckless.

The song is heavily poetic and exciting in a literary sense. The chasing and fighting paints the picture of a guy trying to win a girl over; it also borrows imagery from the biblical story of the good shepherd, who leaves his 99 sheep in the field and goes off in search of a single lost sheep. He tells a tale of personal importance that nothing is done to earn. In verse 2, he buttresses the point of God’s eternal and unconditional love.

Then right to my favourite verse…

There’s no shadow You won’t light up

Mountain You won’t climb up

Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down

Lie You won’t tear down

Coming after me

A representation technique is used here. It seems to point to Ephesians 6: 12 ‘ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.

It seems to say that no belief asides the gospel will stand in his way. Even if the belief is as high as a mountain or so dark it casts shadows.He’ll keep coming after you. No matter how high you’ve built your wall and how much lies you are living, he’ll still come after you. 

The song is one of those songs you put on replay till whenever.