I wept when I rewatched the scenes from the Academy Award winning movie Crash. It’s a subplot about Daniel, his five-year-old daughter, Lara, and their encounter with a homicidal shop owner named Farhad. I have an incredibly tender spot in my heart for stories about dads and their little girls. But that’s not the only thing that moved me in the movie. It tells a story with one of the best definitions of a miracle I’ve seen or read. And it redefined and renewed my feeble faith in miracles.
A Miraculous Story Redefined Miracle
Daniel, a young Hispanic father, returns from work as a locksmith and finds his five-year-old daughter Lara hiding under her bed. She says she heard a bang like a gun shot. He lays on the floor and talks to her as she hides under the bed.
“Are you thinking about that bullet that came through your window?” He asks. She nods.
He then tells her a story about a fairy with stubby wings that gave him an “impenetrable, invisible cloak” when he was five.
“I was supposed to give it to you when you turned five. But I forgot. Do you want it?” Lara nods her head and he lifts her onto her mussed up bed and ties it around her neck.
The scene portrays the power of love from a father, imagination, and how miracles can both be explainable and unexplainable at the same time.
In the meantime, Farhad, a shop owner who has been brutally and continually robbed, buys a pistol and ammunition while also having Daniel fix the locks on his shop. But Farhad is robbed again and his anger erupts.
“Give me my money,” he demands, pointing his pistol at Daniel’s head.
“What money?” Daniel asks.
Five-year-old Lara watches from their kitchen. When she sees the gun pointed in her dad’s face, she shouts, “I have it. Daddy doesn’t have the cloak.”
She bursts out the screen door, runs, dark hair bouncing, and jumps into his arms just as Farhad fires. Point blank. Right into Lara’s tiny back. Lara’s mother a pace behind, too late, screams. Farhad, in shock, lowers the gun. Daniel clutches his precious daughter in horror. Regret and guilt for not being able to protect her and for telling her that ridiculous story etch his face.
Then Daniel pulls up Lara’s shirt, fingers her back. He finds no wound. Farhad stands frozen in shocked, but relieved, disbelief. Daniel turns toward the house still gripping Lara.
Stupefied wonder is written on each face, except Lara’s. She whispers into her dad’s ear, “It’s a really good cloak.”
They’ve each experienced a miracle. Except—what we the audience saw in a previous scene is that a dishonest gun shop owner sold Farhad blanks. Daniel, Lara, her mother, nor Farhad, however, will ever know this. They will carry a crazy gratefulness and sense of wonder all the days of their lives.
This movie redefined and renewed my feeble faith in miracles
Are Miracles only to Be Believed if Unexplained?
My question is this: Does it make it any the less of a miracle if we can trace and explain the source? By the dictionary miracles are only those things that defy explanation and are attributed to God.
Wasn’t it also a miracle, though, that dishonesty came to the rescue of an innocent girl? Or in real life that cancer is healed via treatment? I have never experienced supernatural, spontaneous healing for my many medical issues. But I have been healed by the hands of many caring physicians and nurses and treatments. I thank God for them.
It is human hubris to say that we can find explanations for most things and that our explanations give a full account of the mysteries of life. We mistakenly believe describing how something happened also answers the why.
This is reductionism. Three turns to the left, one right, one left unlocks the mysteries of life. Except it does not.
I had a heart attack in December of 2015 while in a clinic on an EKG machine surrounded by medical personnel who saved my life. But why I had it while in a clinic on an EKG machine surrounded by medical personnel is a still a mystery. And always will be.
We Cannot Explain Away God
Worse we believe that those things we can explain must not come from God and therefore are not miraculous. Because we go to work and receive a paycheck, we discount God’s provision. What if we simply changed the definition of miracle to things that can and cannot be explained except they still can be attributed to God? Daniel, Lara, and Farhad are not foolish to believe something miraculous happened simply because we know the back story. God always knows the back story.
This doesn’t mean miracles are normal, every day occurrences.
Miracles Are God-breathed, Defy our Expectations, and Transform Us
Reuben Land, the young asthmatic narrator in Leif Enger’s brilliant novel Peace Like a River, says,
“Let me say something about that word: miracle. For too long it’s been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week – a miracle, people say, as if they’ve been educated from greeting cards. I’m sorry, but nope. . . . Real miracles bother people. . . . A miracle contradicts the will of the earth. My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed—though ignoring them will change you also.”
Miracles may or may not be explainable. They are not, however, normal. As Enger writes, they change us. This movie redefined and renewed my feeble faith in miracles because though it could be explained, it was not normal. And, even for this viewer, it was transformational. It “contradicted the will of the earth.” Maybe that’s the best definition of miracle: A God-breathed event that defies our expectations and thus transforms us.
Read these other essays on miracles also: Waiting on God in the Doctor’s Office and Understanding Miracles. And this one on messages in novels: The Top Ten Novels of all Time (Or Ten Novels I Loved Enough to Read More than Once)