What Do You Do When You Don't Get The Miracle?


Today it’s been exactly eight years since my dad died. Eight long and extremely short years since I called an ambulance and stayed with him while unbeknownst to me, he left us for heaven. Eight years since I frantically posted this to Twitter on a Friday morning at 6:07AM:


Social media is both a blessing and a curse—am I right? Every year it brings to me these precious memories and photos of my dad, kind words people had to say about him, and every year it brings this back to me too. The miracle I prayed for that went unanswered.

I don't remember it being that early. Was it that early? I do remember posting this as I led my mom out the door in front of me. I remember my aqua blue flannel pajamas covered in snowflakes that I was still wearing. That I didn’t have time to put on a bra. I remember that I already knew he was gone.

But I posted this anyways.

I knew all the way to the hospital. I knew when they led us through the waiting room to a tiny private room in the back. I knew when I read Isaiah 55 to my mom and my aunt and my grandma and myself and then Lamentations 3. When did I grab my Bible? I don’t remember that—I knew that it was the outcome we didn’t want. This was the time we would have to trust and believe—for real—that HIS ways were higher than ours. This was our verse 20 and I knew we’d spend the foreseeable future looking for our BUT to call to mind and find hope. I knew a long time before anyone told us that my dad was gone.

You know those things that you just know? This was absolutely one of them and I’ve always hated that it was.

But I made that post anyways. Figured I should. Because I had said my whole life that I believed that God could do miracles.

I still did.

I still do.

I sometimes wonder what it says about me that I asked people to pray for a miracle that I already knew wouldn’t happen. I’ve wondered if I’m the reason it didn’t happen—like all those people of too little faith in Bible times. I think about all of the crazy stories of people praying desperate impossible prayers and seeing them answered faster than they could have eaten dinner out of a microwave.

I’ve wondered all of those things—choked the questions out between sobs—and here’s what I knew then and what I know now more than ever.

God is a God who can do miracles.A God who does them all the time. He’s a God who hears frantic cries and who sees desperate tweets. He’s a God who shows up in the midst of fears and doubts and who rides in cars with daughters and wives who know they are about to face unimaginable loss. He’s a God who sees in eternity—long before we were on this planet and so far beyond when we won’t be.

God’s number one goal for each and every one of us is to make us like His Son so that we can spend eternity with Him. That’s it. The ultimate miracle.

That’s the answer.

To a different question. A better question.

The question is not whether God does miracles every time we ask. It’s not what to do when he doesn’t respond for us. It’s whether or not we see the miracle and how we will when we’re certain He didn’t show up. Because He does it—the miracle—every time—just very rarely in the manner we expected or hoped for.

So when I close my eyes and timidly let myself walk back into January 7, 2011. The moment I sent that tweet knowing that my story wouldn’t end with one of those crazy microwave miracles, I can sense what I did know.

It wasn’t doubt. I didn’t believe it wouldn’t happen because I didn’t believe it could. I just knew somehow—by the grace of God to see through His eyes in that frantic moment—that He had a different miracle for us. A miracle He wanted to do in us. A miracle that He desperately wanted us to look for and to find because otherwise all we would see was Him abandoning us and hurting us and He couldn’t bear that. In the seven minute drive to the hospital He found me. He gently led me back to Isaiah 55 and Lamentations 3–passages that had carried me through much less painful situations (though I didn’t know that at the time) to October sermons on joy and cupcakes. And He asked me quietly, in the depths of me, if I was still with Him. If I was going to walk away now. Could I find Him here, His grace and kindness, even in this? And much like Peter, I looked into His eyes and said, “Where else would I go?”


And that was my miracle. I was never angry really. I never questioned God for taking my dad. The miracle was His grace to survive it and the person He would shape me into once I did. The miracle was the ministry He could do through me in the future because I walked through that loss. The miracles would come. People I would encounter who needed to hear that story—my story—and the honest heartache and survival—not more miracles they hadn’t seen. The ability to say that I saw God in all of it—very near and responsive—even though my dad didn’t get up off the floor and walk away healed.

For my mom the miracle came later. Slowly. Allowing God to heal her heart and change her heart and soften it. Learning how to live and be her own person and go on without him. God showing her that there was strength in her she never knew she had. The healing and strengthening of our relationship—a long, hard road but a miraculous one nonetheless.

He didn’t give me the miracle I asked for, but He has given me eight years of miracles since, starting the very moment I called on Him—dare I even say before. He knows us and loves us far better than we know and love each other or even ourselves. Might we trust Him with His miracles and gladly accept from His gracious hand whichever ones He sees fit for us.

Eight years is not some magic number. It’s not a decade or half of a decade. Just somewhere in the middle. It feels really long and yet the memories are still so fresh all at the same time. I shed more tears this year and felt the heartache and missing more deeply than years six and seven. Only God in His grace knows what year nine and ten and twenty one will bring. Loss and death and grief are hard and unavoidable parts of our human existence—they aren’t going away—but neither are the miracles. You’ll find them even there. Maybe even more so than anywhere else.



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