Hope Finds a Miracle

flower in cementThey swooped into the ICU, a gaggle of church women – loud, excited, demanding. Their leader shouted, “I believe in a God of miracles.”

So do I. Shut up!

They swarmed into a circle, grabbed hands and entreated God to do something NOW – to bring back to wholeness my precious friend.

Certain that raw emotion and lack of sleep caused my abrasive attitude, I nevertheless watched them with rising irritation.

The doctors had agreed. No treatments were working. We were preparing our hearts for the inevitable tragedy as each breath brought Deb’s life closer to its end.

Of course, God could have blinked his eye and restored the paralysis from a massive stroke. He could have balanced her red blood cells that fell way below normalcy.

But Deb’s timeline was determined before she was born. As much as we hated to accept it, she was reaching its end.

When we face the unexpected tragedy, we pray for a miracle. We want life to return to what it was before. We long to delete the past weeks that brought nothing but bad news.

Yet when we demand that God restore life OUR way and in OUR timing, we fail to see the miracles already occurring. We are blinded by our own self-righteousness.

Within that ICU, family and friends became one. At the beginning of the journey, we dared to hope – planned how Deb’s next weeks would include healthy meals and constant attention to her needs.

Then as the crash happened and reality changed, we clung to each other, physically and emotionally. The drama we shared in that room brought unity and love that even now brings me to a tearful awe. With all the demographics and ages present, all the differences in beliefs – a miracle of togetherness drew us close.

Shared sorrow expanded hearts.

After the gaggle left, still demanding their version of God’s will, I moved beside the bed and held Deb’s hand. The miracle of our friendship seemed a sweeter gift than ever before. The way her family embraced me and included me in Deb’s last days helped salve my broken heart. Another miracle of acceptance and compassion.

Ultimately, the greatest miracle DID occur. Certainly not the one we wanted, longed for. At the end of that terrible day, Deb’s body failed and she left us.

But the ultimate miracle happened as her invisible soul traveled into eternity – a forever of peace and joy.

We can always pray for the miracle we want and hope for the best. But if we demand the miraculous to look like our earthly description, we will be disappointed. Even Lazarus had to die again.

My friend will never have to struggle through another winter or face another tax season. She has been released from her worries and fears.

But hope still lives in the legacy she left behind and the miracle of how her life impacted so many.

©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved


Long-Term Friends

We met again because one of my book signings happened to be close to where both of them live. The last time all three of us were together, my son was in the first grade. Twenty-some years have passed, quickly and unbelievably.

Yet there they were, supporting me at a book signing and smiling for pictures that erased the wrinkles and the years of crises, job changes, multiple moves.

2 Carols and RJT

2 Carols and a Writer

At lunch, we shared pictures and stories, chatting as if we had seen each other just 20 minutes ago rather than 20 years. Each of us has changed in our own ways, seasoned by life, yet still believing in the foundations that brought us together:

  • Faith in the grace-giving joy of Jesus
  • A sisterhood carved from a shared piece of history – the years we all lived in the same town
  • Seasons of prayer for each other and for our families

Although we are more mature, we remember the young women we were and the lessons we learned. Now, we understand more about our mothers and grandmothers – how they survived the years with grace and ended up surrounded by halos of wisdom.

We bring that grace to each other, accepting our differences and celebrating our sameness.

We have decided not to let 20 years separate us again. In the spring of 2013, we’re planning a weekend retreat where we’ll eat well, laugh and enjoy being together.

And now, in this season of gratitude, I am so thankful for these long-term friends who have not only remembered me – but also support the passion I call writing.

As I think of them, I pray the traditional Gaelic blessing:

“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,
May God hold you ever in the palm of His hand.”

© 2012 RJ Thesman