We decided to go see "Miracles from Heaven" with my parents. It's a movie I've really wanted to see, and I highly suspected the content would touch us in ways that might be a little more unique than a traditional church service. Knowing the kids were at Harlow all week with all sorts of sermons interspersed (and exhausted and likely to zone out), and that my parents might not have felt as comfortable in the "Family Sing Along" environment service our church was promoting (knowing they probably wouldn't be as familiar with the music), I proposed this and everyone was on board.
We knew the general story going in, the previews don't hesitate to paint nearly the whole plot picture. We also knew it would be hard to go wrong with Jennifer Garner cast as the mom. John and I have been huge fans since her "Alias" days - in fact, our previous dog, "Sydney", was named partly because of her "Sydney Bristow" character on that show. The reviews gave us plenty of optimism too. What I didn't expect, was to have more use of the dozen napkins on my lap to blot out my tears than protect me from the popcorn mess. My t-shirt was literally damp from the slow flow of tears that were kind of a constant for about half the movie.
I know that the older I get, the more sentimental I've gotten - especially with feel good commercials, stories, or shows. But, this was a new record.
I'm not going to reveal spoilers, because there are actually a few details the previews didn't show. However, what hit the hardest was Jennifer Garner's portrayal of the journey through these events that rocked the life of Christy Beam. A solid Christian, that prayed with her daughters each night, attended church, stood by her husband in tough choices, but was absolutely rocked to her core when her daughter became gravely ill. She admitted she lost her faith.
I walked away thinking about this movie and what today represents.
For those of us who follow Jesus, Sunday is the ultimate day of victory. I can't even fathom what must have been going through the minds of the women (the "Mary's") that went to tend to Jesus' dead body, only to find Him gone. To be confronted by an angel who proclaimed that "He is Risen" - I mean, yes, they know that's glorious news, but how could it have really sunk in to know in that moment what it really meant for all of us? But, at the very least, they comprehended a HOPE, a new beginning to a story that they thought was dead.
We also know that that previous Friday was the day of ultimate bleakness. Their friend, supposed king, and proclaimed savior was murdered. Every bit of "new life" they'd dreamed of having was obliterated. Nothing made sense. Everything they had put their faith in seemed to crumble. (Literally, in the case of the temple). The light of day literally disappeared to blackness - such an absolute description of how hopeless EVERYTHING was.
We KNOW the outcome, we know the Sunday of Easter - the VICTORY, was but 48 hours away. But, they didn't. There had to be this overwhelming shock of horror on Friday, followers huddled trying to make sense of it all, burial arrangements being discussed....but, what was SATURDAY like for them?
While I know nothing could compare to that horror, I believe Christy Beam's experience with her daughter must have felt like and endless "Saturday". No answers. Emptiness. Hearbreak. The news only getting worse. Betrayal by friends. And no hope in sight.
We all know these "Saturdays". We've all been through days that are black, full of horror and heartbreak - and then waking up the next day to find it's all not just a bad dream, but a reality we have to somehow trudge through - and from our limited perspective, that trudge could be endless.
There were moments in this movie that hit home in a powerful way to our experience with Brayden and his stroke. A moment when Christy is told she needs to step back from her daughter while the doctors do something that will cause her daughter pain, but is necessary. It lists among one of the most shattering moments of my life when the doctors in the ER told me I needed to leave the room, to leave my nine month old boy who had just had three seizures, so that they could strap him down to a "papoose board" and get an iv into his tiny little arm. It wasn't that I was hysterical, I was remarkably well-composed. It was that as long as I stayed in the room, Brayden would scream out to me to rescue him, and I couldn't. I couldn't make it better. We spent 4 days in that hospital seeking answers - not knowing whether to pray for epilepsy because it was the best of all of the potential diagnoses as to what could cause seizures like that. ("Please God, don't let it be a tumor, please God, don't let it be meningitis, please God, don't let it be his heart...."). We lived a very long "Saturday" in that Children's Hospital, but nothing like the heartache of Christy Beam - and nothing remotely close to the heartbreak of the disciples and those that loved, and put their hope in, Jesus.
We know there's a miracle at the end of the movie we watched - the title even makes that clear. And how that miracle unfolds and what it did for everyone surrounding the life of that little girl makes for the very best kind of Hollywood ending. Likewise, Brayden's story ended with its own miracle. A benign stroke - absolutely random with no ill-effects - and no-predisposition to ever recur. But, not everyone gets their "Sunday Miracle" here on earth.
Which just brings it all back full circle to how profound this Sunday - EASTER SUNDAY truly is. Because it insures that no matter how bleak our FRIDAYS, how long and hopeless our SATURDAYS, ultimately there will be a VICTORY SUNDAY. If not here, that in the presence of Jesus in Heaven - for all those that seek Him and open the doors of our hearts to the sacrifice that was His Friday.
P.S. - Here is a link to a devotional worded so much better than I could put together, that I read last Easter and had to re-discover after writing all of this.
"In Between Despair and Joy" - Jon Ortberg