Based on the incredible true story of the Beam family.
Set in Burleson, Texas, between 2008 and 2012, the film centers on a 10-year-old girl named Annabel Beam, daughter of Christy Beam. One day, Anna starts to vomit, and when examined by her doctor, he does not find anything abnormal. On March 20, 2008, Anna wakes up her family at midnight because of an intense stomach pain, severe enough that her parents decide to take her to the hospital. Doctors find no signs of illness, except to say it could be either acid reflux, or lactose intolerance, but Christy is not convinced by this.
The following morning, Christy finally finds a pediatrician in the hospital that is able to diagnose Anna with an abdominal obstruction, and he tells them he must operate immediately or she will die. After the emergency surgery is performed, the doctor explains that Anna has been left with pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and she is unable to eat, so feeding tubes are needed for her nutrition. The doctor then tells the Beams about America’s foremost pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Nurko, who practices in Boston, but explains it could take months for them to be seen. In January 2009, Christy and Anna travel to Bostondespite not having an appointment with the doctor.
Dr. Nurko has a last minute opening, and when Anna is subsequently examined at Boston Children’s Hospital, the extent of her chronic illness is found. She then goes through extensive treatment. During this ordeal, Anna and her mother befriend a local Massachusetts resident named Angela, as well as Ben and his sick daughter, Haley.
On December 29, 2011, Anna, along with her bigger sister Abbie, climb up to a very high branch of an old cotton tree. While they are on that branch, it begins to break. Anna goes to the trunk for safety, whereupon stepping on it, she falls in a hole to the base of the tree. When Christy finds out what has happened, she desperately calls her husband, as well as the fire department. Anna is then rescued by the firefighters, who warn Christy to expect the worst by saying that nobody could fall 30 feet without sustaining a serious injury; broken bones or paralysis. Once out, Anna is airlifted to a hospital, where a battery of tests are run on her, and all of the tests come back negative. Other than a minor concussion, Anna is uninjured.
Sometime after the fall, Anna seems to no longer be affected by her illness. When Christy and Anna go to an appointment with Dr. Nurko, he tells Christy that Anna is miraculously cured. Anna then recounts with her parents the experience she had during the fall. She describes how her soul left her body during the fall, and God promised that she would be cured of her illness upon her return to Earth. At church, Christy shares the story of how God miraculously healed her daughter with His love. As Christy finishes her speech, one of the congregation protests, stating that he does not believe Christy. Ben, who has traveled from Boston upon hearing the story about Anna, believes her and tells her that his daughter Haley died peacefully because Anna gave her faith when in the hospital.
The Beam family – Kevin (Martin Henderson), Christy (Jennifer Garner), and daughters Abbie (Brighton Sharbino), Annabel (Kylie Rogers), and Adelynn (Courtney Fansler) – live in Burleson, Texas. They frequently go to church on Sundays. The pastor Reverend Scott (John Carroll Lynch) gives a sermon on keeping your faith at all times.
Kevin is on the verge of starting a new business, which he and Christy are hoping gets off the ground. Anna has been suffering from an unknown condition over the last few weeks that causes her to vomit constantly and makes her unable to hold down her food.
Christy and Kevin take Anna to see a doctor. After several tests, the doctors conclude that Anna may just be lactose intolerant. Unconvinced, Christy demands the doctors do more tests. Eventually, Christy and Kevin are told that Anna has an intestinal disorder that prevents her from being able to properly digest food, and if it’s not treated soon, Anna could die.
Anna is so sick that she misses a school trip to the aquarium. During a free period, Anna is joined by a boy to go to the library.
At church, Christy is approached by two women that offer their condolences to her, but they suggest that Anna hasn’t gotten better due to either her or her family’s sins. This causes Christy to not want to return to church.
Christy spends time trying to get in touch with Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez), a gastroenterologist that she was referred to. However, Nurko is too busy and the Beams are put on a waiting list. Eventually, Christy takes Anna to see him in Boston. Despite not having an appointment, Christy tearfully pleads with the receptionist to help her, and while the receptionist wants to help, she just got the job and is only doing what she’s told.
Christy takes Anna to a restaurant where they meet a waitress named Angela (Queen Latifah). After taking a liking to them, Angela invites Christy and Anna on a personal tour of Boston. To Anna’s delight, the first place they go to is an aquarium, and then later an art museum.
Nurko finally gets a chance to see Anna. He agrees to help, but he tells Christy the severity of Anna’s condition.
Christy begins to lose her faith in God, and everything else in general. She has a brief visit with Reverend Scott over her concerns, which he understands, but reminds her to not lose her faith.
At the hospital, Anna befriends a girl named Haley (Hannah Alligood), who suffers from leukemia. She asks Anna about her cross necklace, which Anna says is a reminder for her that Jesus is with her. Haley later tells her dad Ben (Wayne Pere) about Anna assuring her not to be scared in the face of death. Ben speaks to Christy privately and says while he’s not upset for Anna trying to be nice to Haley, he doesn’t want her to have false hope, which Christy understands.
Anna starts to get depressed and wishes for death so that she can stop suffering. She feels less upset when Kevin shows up with Abbie and Adelynn for a visit.
After a while, the Beams must return to Texas. The girls are outside playing, when Abbie and Anna climb a tall tree. The branch they’re sitting on cracks. Abbie tells Anna to walk to the end of the branch. It cracks again, and Anna falls 30 feet down a hole in the tree. Over the next few hours, paramedics and the press show up on the scene. Christy breaks down and starts to pray. The medics pull Anna out of the tree. Christy and Kevin are told that Anna is breathing. At the hospital, the doctor says that other than a mild concussion from the fall, Anna is okay.
Upon returning home, Christy notices that Anna is more energetic and happier than she was before the fall. She takes Anna back to Boston to see Nurko, who goes over tests and deduces that, miraculously, Anna’s disorder is gone. Christy is in disbelief, but extremely thankful nonetheless. She joyfully thanks Nurko, the nurses, and the receptionist. Christy and Anna then see Angela one last time. Anna gives her an old doll and asks if she can call her “Aunt Angela” because she sees her as more than a friend. Angela accepts and hugs Anna.
Christy and Kevin sit outside with Anna. She tells her parents that when she hit her head after the fall, everything went black and she felt an out-of-body experience. She saw a butterfly and touched it, which appeared to bring her to Heaven. We see Anna walking through colorful woods before approaching the gates of Heaven. She says she spoke to God, and while she wanted to stay, He told her she must return and that she would be healed. Anna says she knows people probably wouldn’t believe her story, but that it’s okay, and people will get there when they get there. Her parents agree.
The Beams all go back to church. Christy speaks about the miracles she encountered over the whole ordeal, and all the people brought to her during this time. We see several instances of goodwill from people they’ve met, like the boy at Anna’s school, Angela, Nurko, and the receptionist that got Nurko to take care of Anna. After she’s done talking, a rotten couple has the nerve to ask if Anna was really sick and if this wasn’t all just for publicity. A man stands up and says he believes Christy’s story. It’s Ben. He says that Haley just recently passed away, which makes Anna cry. However, Ben found peace knowing that after her meeting with Anna, Haley had God in her heart and went peacefully.
The last scene has the Beams have a pizza dinner outside now that Anna is all better. Christy’s voiceover states that the family lives each day like it’s a miracle.
Before the credits, we see a video diary from the real Anna Beam and her family. The tree she fell in was knocked down after a storm. She is now a healthy and happy 7th grader that hasn’t been sick since.