In honor of Christmas, I have set aside my normal format for this column in order to ask you a question: Do you believe in miracles?
Marie Fiala certainly does. Her family experienced God’s power at one of the darkest moments of their lives.
Marie, an attorney, and her husband Kris, a business executive, had created a peaceful, happy family life with their two sons and daughter.
But everything normal in their lives--going out for ice cream, the mad scramble in the morning to leave for school---came to a shattering stop the day their 13 year-old-son Jeremy collapsed on the kitchen floor, the blood vessels in his brain inexplicably hemorrhaging.
Comatose at first, then paralyzed and barely responsive, Jeremy lay at the mercy of his bleeding brain for weeks. There was little the doctors could do. In the weeks that followed, email chains updated family, friends, co-workers, unknown friends of friends—countless people—about Jeremy’s dire situation and the family’s struggle.
As Jeremy lay teetering between life and death, a family member organized an international prayer vigil asking for healing. It was a simple request, sent far and wide over the Internet: light a candle and spend one hour at 8 o’clock on a Sunday night, united with thousands of others praying together for Jeremy’s recovery. So thousands did.
That night, as the vigil concluded, Marie received message after message from people profoundly touched by faith as they prayed together for Jeremy. His family felt God’s presence that night and Jeremy knew the blessing of a peaceful sleep. But it was nothing dramatic – until 24 hours later.
Surrounded by a roomful of doctors doing their usual pricks and prods, Jeremy spoke out loud. And kept speaking. The jubilant doctors were astounded. Marie, who was taking a rare break at home that night while Kris stayed with Jeremy, got an unexpected, miraculous phone call. “Hi Mom, This is Jeremy. I am sorry to wake you up. I love you.”
It was the first of many miracles for Jeremy. Marie shares their story—including her own doubts and heart-wrenching tests of faith—in her eloquent, uplifting book, Letters From a Distant Shore. (It would make an excellent Christmas or New Year gift for those who need to be reminded that God is still in the miracle business.)
While the Christmas season seems to flush cynics and skeptics out of their dark corners, deriding believers for their “imaginary friends” and wishful thinking, God is still reaching out to all of us, waiting for us to call on Him to perform the greatest miracle of all – transform our lives and hearts through the power of Christ.
God is real. God is powerful. And His love is strong enough to work miracles, in our hearts, bodies, workplaces, and in our culture. All we have to do is ask, with faith the size of the smallest mustard seed, hardly bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.
Roughly 80% of Americans say they believe in miracles. Do you? Do you ever ask God to work in your life?
Putting your faith on public display, open to ridicule or scorn, is always an intimidating prospect. In the days leading up to the prayer vigil, as Marie requested prayers from everyone, including sophisticated co-workers and unbelieving friends, she worried about how the request would be perceived. Would it seem desperate? Would they look like fools if Jeremy experienced no perceptible improvement?
But Marie knew that the lame can walk only when they are willing to take a step forward in faith. She was willing to trust God with the future, no matter in which direction He led.
As Christians the world over celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we remember the power of a God who loved us enough to personally intervene in human history. Let us also claim the power of a God who loves us enough to intervene in our lives. Ask God for your Christmas miracle… and don’t forget to open your heart to receive it.