Young teacher Christy Huddleston celebrates her one-year anniversary in Cutter Gap, Tennessee. It is the beginning of the 20th century, and a deadly typhoid epidemic hits the residents of the isolated mountain community. Dr. MacNeill exhausts himself caring for them, trying to get them to see that their own water and lack of sanitation is making them sick. The tragic death of her cherished friend, Fairlight Spencer, affects Christy in cathartic and intimate ways, sending her into an emotional tailspin and catapulting her into a primal crisis of faith in which she questions the fairness and even the existence of God. Then, Reverend David Grantland contracts the disease. Fearing for his life, Christy prays for David, who recovers. MacNeill overhears her pleas to God. Sensing Christy's love for David, MacNeill decides he will leave town. Christy is torn because she's not sure if she loves David, even though she has accepted his proposal of marriage.
A few months later, Christy and David are finalizing their wedding plans when a surprise vistor shows up -- Dr. MacNeill. Suddenly, a torrential storm hits the mountain cove; as winds and floods wash away cabins, the residents seek refuge in the mission house. At the height of the storm, MacNeill and Christy are stranded in a hunter's cabin where, before it's too late, the doctor proposes marriage. Before she can sort out her feelings, Christy bolts into the torrential rain, running and falling into a steep ravine. MacNeill rescues her and tends to her back at the cabin where she starts burning up with fever. The following morning, when her fever breaks, MacNeill carries her back to the mission house. Christy's struggles to survive the spiritual, emotional and physical tests that she had endured, have brought her to a place of newfound, adult maturity. At the very moment Christy realizes that she can maintain a life without either Grantland or MacNeill, she makes her choice of a groom.