There is a country and western song from a few years back that tells us that some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. In truth, I believe faith isn’t necessarily about insuring what God can do for us – like 24 hour on-call delivery, open all night to serve your needs.
Indeed, for every lament of “why did God let this happen to me?” there are undoubtedly numerous miracles we neglect to note. When you think of all the things you wanted and didn’t get, remember also all the things that you didn’t want and didn’t get. I believe that God truly is in the details.
Gifts. For me, one of the greatest gifts was the undetected umbilical cord wrapped around her neck that did not strangle or damage our daughter at birth – but so easily could, and should, have.
For others the gift has been the briefly unguarded body of water that a toddler is snatched from the edge of without incident, or the lump that turns out to be nothing. The child returned safe and sound after she went missing in a crowd for an eternity (or approximately eight minutes – both being about equal in the heart of the parent of a lost child).
Perhaps the numerous times a dog didn’t bite or an accident didn’t happen, the misfortune that did not come to pass.
A friend has a plaque on her dash that says “never drive faster than your guardian angels can fly.” I try harder not to ever since they had to struggle mightily to fashion a series of seemingly random events that caused me to slow my car drastically only seconds before my tire blew out quite dramatically on the interstate. Some may call it coincidence, but the rest of us – we know a gift when we receive one.
In fact, I suspect that the advent of the automobile gave God his greatest headache to date. Protecting us from ourselves as we dart about as if we did indeed have a team of angels riding shotgun has got to be a mighty challenge.
Routine miracles. When my son was just a baby, he and I were in my car when a speeding truck piloted by a distracted driver slammed into the rear of a car behind me that, in turn, crashed into mine.
Eternity is the screeching tires, shattering glass, and eerie quiet after an accident like that. Miraculous is hearing your child scream in the backseat – because he was angry that the impact had caused him to drop his juice.
Climbing from the wreckage, safe but shaken, the young girl in the car behind me (a car that now had a truck parked in the blessedly vacant backseat) said tearfully, “I was going to go around you but I didn’t! He would’ve hit you!”
And with knee-weakening clarity I realized that had the truck destroyed my car completely, rather than hers, my son might not have survived.
God’s greatest gift that was to embrace by the side of the road while sobbing together in relief that the “might have beens” had blessedly passed us by. As for the driver that caused it all, I also believe in the gift that is the split-second lack of concentration you make that doesn’t cause you to kill anyone.
When the worst thing to arise out of an accident is what type of rental car you’re going to get stuck with, one should be eternally grateful. Forget whining about the incidence of such misfortune in the first place.
Common miracles. Miracles abound in the commonplace. The fact that we have commonplace lives at all is the greatest gift. Miracles abound in every journey through every day that you and those you love make safely and without incident.
So if you think you haven’t benefited from a miracle, that God doesn’t do much for you, that you haven’t gotten any “gifts” and your prayers are endlessly unanswered, I would ask you to reconsider.
The next time bad things happen – and we all know they will – instead of lamenting “why me, God?” perhaps you could embrace the times He might’ve decided why not you instead.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt believes the adage “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” She welcomes reader comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.)