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–