The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “miracle” as: “an unusual and mysterious event that is thought to have been caused by God.” So what source would you consult if you wanted to find some examples of miracles from God?
The best place to start is the Bible, there are miracles in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Here are just some examples: Abraham and Sarah conceiving a child in old age; Moses parting the Red Sea; the Lord raining manna down from Heaven; the Lord rescuing Jonah from the stomach of the whale; Daniel surviving in the Lion’s Den; Jesus turning water into wine; the immaculate conception of Jesus; Jesus feeding the multitudes; and Jesus walking on water. The Bible is full of impressive and wondrous happenings.
Sometimes miracles in the health world seem a.most as awesome as biblical miracles. Life-saving events like a heart transplant are phenomenal (and maybe more than a little daunting). A heart transplant summons a number of emotions within me. Getting a new heart is a truly wonderful prospect for those who have a heart that is so damaged that just living each day is a challenge. But on the other hand, how can we call it a miracle if someone had to die in order for a heart transplant to be available? I just cannot wrap my head around God taking someone’s life early in order to visit the miracle of a heart transplant on someone else.
Instead, I like to think of this as an example of amazing love for a fellow child of God. I believe that the donor’s faith and compassion for his or her fellow humans has caused the donor to give the ultimate gift of life. Those who have faith are confident that the donor will be rewarded in the afterlife. I also believe that the heart patient receives a phenomenal blessing, and will hopefully fill the rest of his or her life performing charitable, compassionate and generous actions in honor of the donor. These altruistic gifts and awesome blessings are filled with elements of love, hope and benevolence that provide symmetry and beauty in God’s world. So maybe not quite miracles but still events that bolster our faith.
I recently realized that God has blessed me with a less spectacular but equally vital miracle as I manage heart failure. The miracle is compassionate, gifted doctors the Lord sent to treat me. Doctors who are talented in their field and who have empathy are truly a gift from God. So in gratitude for this miracle, I need to follow their advice so that I have the energy to continue to really observe and appreciate the life that I am living.
I think some people, especially those who are cynical about the existence of a God, would argue that an event or circumstance cannot be certified as a miracle unless it falls into the Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza category of biblical miracle. So unless there are burning bushes, or seas parting, or plagues of locust, well then the event just does not count. Please do not misunderstand me. I do accept as true the descriptions of miracles that I have seen recounted in the Bible. But those miracles were at a time when God was trying to get the attention of a wayward humankind. He eventually chose to bring his son into the world and visit upon his beloved creation the greatest miracle of all time – the promise of eternity. I’m not sure what miracle can come afterward that tops Christ’s death and resurrection.
Additionally, hasn’t God proven his awesome nature to us enough times? Why can’t we just accept without question a miracle when we see it, regardless of whether there are trumpets blaring, or fires erupting, or natural phenomena cascading down on the earth?
I believe that we need to be observant because miracles are often elusive concepts and we might just miss a miracle if we blink. To me, when I am at the end of my rope, sometimes the simplest actions or the most mundane things can seem like a miracle.
So this leads to my next observation. Sometimes miracles are not played out on the public stage – like when manna rained down from heaven. Sometimes the miracle appears just to you at a time when your hope is almost depleted. I remember when my Dad was a day or two from leaving this earth. I was so sad. The man had Alzheimer’s Disease and had spent ten years in a nursing home, as the disease slowly robbed each vestige of dignity from his life. It truly was like watching someone die by inches.
I knew the end was near, but I did not know how to process that information. I believed in God, but I had seen this man suffer through so much that I just wanted some reassurance that he would be okay. I also was sad for my Mom, who had been with him every step of this long debilitating journey. I was hoping that she too would find reassurance that when my Dad finally passed over to the other side, he would be fine.
So I went to bed that night and fell asleep immediately. I woke up a few hours later with this eerie feeling that hands were pressing down on my stomach. At the time, I was a living by myself in a New York City apartment. The first place my mind went was: “Has someone broken into my apartment and is here to harm me?” The pressure continued on my stomach but I felt oddly comforted rather than afraid. I felt very calm, and I realized in a flash that everything was going to be okay with my Dad. I fell into a deep sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I was sure that I would get a call from my Mom saying that my Dad had passed away in the night. Actually, he passed away a day later. But I think he was pretty much brain dead at that point. I will always think that this was both my God and Dad letting me know that Dad was in God’s care and all would be well.
As for my Mom, did she get the reassurance she needed that her long-standing mate was in a good place. Well in the weeks after my Dad’s funeral, I happened to be chatting with my Mom. I told her about what I had experienced. She had a similar experience a few days after she returned home from Dad’s funeral.
We compared notes and the details so similar that it was eerie. So call it a coincidence, call it a dream, call it a figment of our imaginations. We prefer to call it a miracle.
Of course there are those who mock religion. They wonder that if there is a God, why don’t you just pray to God to visit a cure on the faithful follower and be done with it? I know when I first started experiencing heart issues, I wondered a lot of things about God. What did I do to irritate God that I was besieged with heart failure? If I wasn’t paying enough attention to his message, and to what he wanted me to do on earth, did he have to take such a dramatic approach to get my attention? I argued that a burning bush would be a much more effective method. Once I had full scale heart failure, I argued to God that the cure could begin now. Trust me, I told God, I had learned my lesson.
But as I began to pray for myself and other people, I began to realize that I should not treat God like Xfinity on Demand. I should not be dictating to God what the results should be. I mean, he made this earth and he made me. When it comes right down to it, God’s track record for sound decision-making is unblemished. On the other hand, my record for sound decision making can use a lot of work.
So it seems disrespectful and presumptuous to be telling the creator and the omnipotent exactly what to do. Instead, I have decided that my prayers should ask God to be with me or whatever person I am praying for as each of us deals with a particularly daunting, and perhaps terminal, challenge.
So would the skeptics consider me to be naïve and even stupid. Perhaps. Thankfully, my prayers are not directed to them. You see what I have realized after a while is that sometimes God wants to put each of us on a journey because as you travel down new and different roads, you will become a more enriched, more faithful servant. In my case, this would not happen if the Atlantic Ocean was parted and I ran across the now dry ocean bed to Europe to demonstrate that my heart failure was all gone.
I have learned so much more because the steps were rough. As my breath gets short, I realize how precious each breath is, just as each person I encounter and each experience I have is precious. So I am learning to slow down. And as my life descends to a slower, more methodical and reasonable pace, I have start to notice people. My ears and eyes become just as important as my heart, and I feel that I am really hearing and appreciating every step in the rest of my journey.
So to sum it all up before I close. The miracle may not be accompanied by a flash of light and may not ever involve the sudden cure of a condition. Indeed, I may some time long down the road die of the impact of heart failure and I have come to accept that. The miracle is that I am beginning to develop a patient resolve that allows me to see the beauty in each day. And for that, I take a moment each day to thank God for answering my prayers!
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. She spent the next 7 years learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth. Then in October 2020, she received a heart transplant. This blog is about her journey of the heart.