Miracles From Heaven

Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah

The movie, Miracles from Heaven is based on the true story of Christy Beam and her daughter Anna who suffered from a rare digestive disorder. The faith-filled family witnesses a miracle when Anna is unexplainably healed after surviving a terrible accident. Jennifer Garner plays Christy and Queen Latifah plays an important role as a friend during their family’s commute between their home in Texas and Boston Children’s Hospital. Risen talked with them about miracles, faith, and living with compassion.

Interviewed for Risen Magazine in Los Angeles, California

Risen Magazine: In the movie there is this huge unexplainable medical miracle that occurs, but then also these everyday miracles take place in the form of patience or kindness. When have you seen this be true?
Jennifer Garner: Those moments of grace where you make a plane you didn’t think you were going to make and by making the plane, you are able to make your child’s [event] at school. Those beautiful moments that happen and they go by and you may not be able to take note of them enough to recall in an interview, but they matter and this movie is a reminder to see them, hold on to them, and to be encouraged by them.

RM: How have you seen a difference be made in someone’s life just by taking a little extra time?
Queen Latifah: My mom is probably one of the people I think of the most. She has medical issues so she has had to spend a good deal of time in the hospital. There may be a guy that comes in to mop up the room and she strikes up a conversation and finds out about his life and before you know it, the man’s head is being carried a little higher because she is giving these encouraging words – and she’s the one that is sick. Now this person has opened up and shared his life and even changed. I’ve watched her do it so many times. It’s just amazing how a little bit of time taken with someone can really affect their life in a positive way.

RM: Oftentimes people say, “If I made more money, I’d give.” Or, “If I had more time, I’d volunteer.” Your character gives more than she has, how has this been displayed in your own life?”
QL: I have literally probably given my accountant a heart attack before because I said, “I’m going to donate this much money to a particular cause.” And he said, “Are you sure you want to do that, because this is a substantial amount.” And I say, “Listen, maybe I don’t have it to give, but they need it more than me and it will come back.” And guess what, it came back. I think, “I get to help this many people, with this much money, go for this amount of time, what am I making it all for if not to help people that I care about, or people I don’t even know who need help?” That was that amount of money, but it could be just two bucks and you get someone a cup of coffee. There are simple things we can do all the time to change someone’s life. Just start with being compassionate, there is no negative side to being compassionate.

RM: Your character Christy wants to control everything, she wants a solution, or an answer, but sometimes it’s not there and that is where faith has to step in. How did seeing situations through Christy’s eyes affect your faith?
JG: Definitely being part of the movie was a great reminder. One of the things I love about the movie is the difference between the way these characters’ faith works. Anna [the daughter], just as a person, her faith is so pure. She is so real and true and you know that is part of that little girl’s being to the core. I think the same is true of Christy, but I think it’s also very healthy and normal and part of faith to struggle with it and to question.

RM: One of the themes is the idea that you are not alone. Speak to the importance of lending a hand to someone in need.
JG: You never know who needs what when you meet somebody. There was one day I was somewhere and I saw someone and I said, “Hi” to her. I didn’t know who she was, but for some reason I just stopped and had a conversation with her. I found out from a friend later that Alias had been her [this woman’s] husband’s favorite show and he had recently passed away and she had felt like this was a sign from him. That was a moment for her that I got to be part of just by the happenstance of being in a good mood and having enough coffee to say, “Hi.” [Laughter] But what if I hadn’t? What if she had seen me and I had meant something to her and I had been rude? You don’t know. So it’s a reminder to go with a full heart into the world all the time and to take in what there is to take in and to put out any good that you can.

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