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Fiction and Healing

I posted some thoughts about Mike Duran’s The Resurrection two weeks ago, as well as reviewing it on my own blog. But one story element I didn’t really go into–one that moved me while I was reading the book and […]
| Jun 22, 2011 | No comments |

I posted some thoughts about Mike Duran’s The Resurrection two weeks ago, as well as reviewing it on my own blog. But one story element I didn’t really go into–one that moved me while I was reading the book and has stuck with me since–is the post-resurrection journey of Ruby Case, accidental healer, as she struggles to come to terms with the fact that she can’t heal people without God’s help, and he doesn’t always help.

In the story, Ruby accidentally raises a child from the dead. The next thing she knows, votive candles and gifts are showing up on her front porch every day, and strangers are coming to her seeking healing. And she wants to help them–despite her husband’s desire to protect her, she can’t bring herself to turn them away.

The problem is that she can’t force God’s hand, and he doesn’t seem inclined to turn Ruby Case, Housewife into Ruby Case, Faith Healer on a regular basis.

Out of all the story’s subplots, this one moved me most. It’s such a real struggle. Who among us hasn’t desired, even needed, to see a miracle–without getting it? Who among us hasn’t wrestled with Jesus’s words about prayer–“Ask what ye will and it shall be done for you”–and even struggled with our own identity as believers based on how God does or doesn’t answer our prayers?

I’ve been thinking about Ruby’s story this week, as I spent Monday in intensive prayer for a toddler who was run over by his father’s tractor on the weekend. I did my best to pray in faith and to believe that God could work a miracle–and I know others prayed much harder, with far more at stake–but the little boy died.

I’m a pragmatist when it comes to art: I don’t really believe in art for art’s sake. The best fiction ministers to life–it serves it by serving readers. Maybe by imparting strength in a difficult time, or renewing our faith in God’s final victory, or just saying “You’re not alone.” Through an honest mirroring of our lives and our faith, it imparts a kind of healing of its own and helps us work through our questions and hurts. Ironically, it sometimes does this best in speculative fiction, because speculation can help us tackle things that are too big for “real-world” constraints.

If we write for no other reason, I think this one is worthwhile: because through writing, we can come alongside those whose questions are raw and pressing, and maybe, if not answers, we can offer them something just as valuable–

Healing.

Rachel Starr Thomson is the author of eighteen novels, all of them in the Christian speculative fiction genre. As an editor and writing coach, she has helped writers achieve their best work for over a decade—so she's thrilled to contribute to The Writer's Toolbox series, which gives fiction writers everything they need to know to create compelling, solid stories.The newest release—5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing—features more than sixty detailed Before and After examples of flawed and corrected passages to help authors learn to spot flaws in their writing.You can check out all Rachel's books and get a free story at her website.

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Esther
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Wow. So sorry for the loss of the little boy. Your article brings some good in the face of his death.
Maybe I’m a pragmatist, too, when it comes to art. I’ll have to give that some thought.

Morgan Busse
Member

I’m a pragmatist when it comes to art: I don’t really believe in art for art’s sake. The best fiction ministers to life–it serves it by serving readers. Maybe by imparting strength in a difficult time, or renewing our faith in God’s final victory, or just saying “You’re not alone.” Through an honest mirroring of our lives and our faith, it imparts a kind of healing of its own and helps us work through our questions and hurts. Ironically, it sometimes does this best in speculative fiction, because speculation can help us tackle things that are too big for “real-world” constraints.
 

You put into words exactly what I think. The best stories I have ever read came alongside me and encouraged me, especially during dark times. That is what I hope my own writing will do for others.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Interesting perspective, Rachel. That same response you refer to bothered me so much. It made me want to shake Ruby. She knew she hadn’t done anything to raise that boy, that the miracle was all God. But instead of saying that to the people, she kept acting as if she WAS a faith healer.

That aside, I love your post because I think your point is well taken. Yes, we do wish we could do more than what we see happen.

I’ve had a similar prayer circumstance to the one you mentioned and even wrote about it on my blog. Coming to grips with God’s power and what He wants to do through prayer is a struggle. I imagine a number of parents who had lost their children standing in the crowd as Jesus stopped and raised the dead boy back to life. I wonder if they weren’t saying like Martha, If only you’d been here when I needed you.

Becky