“Pray for a twenty-one-year-old girl who has spinal meningitis and something else and they told her parents to plan her funeral!” a woman at the supermarket, a stranger, told me. Her troubled face make me take her seriously, not think her deranged.
“I will,” I said, expecting more detail, but she went on, pushing her shopping cart and speaking to a woman down the aisle.
I told my wife about the incident, shelving my load of groceries, and she cried, “Oh, I will pray with all my heart!” Tears in her eyes, she turned away and I knew she would soon be kneeling by a bed whose coverlet was already salty with many tears.
We did pray for a girl whose name we didn’t know almost as hard as we still prayed for a girl we did. And as months went by, I wondered what had happened. So when I spotted the woman in the store again, I spoke to her, asking her what had become of the girl.
“Oh, it’s a miracle she survived! But not only that, the doctors thought she might lose a foot, then maybe just a few toes. Finally, they said all her limbs were intact and this girl is engaged and going to be married in a few weeks!”
I said appropriate things and brought my groceries home, but with a perplexed heart. “How does it work?” I asked my wife. “How does prayer work? I mean, is the extent of the miracle based on the number of people “calling in” like one of those TV polls? Did this girl who is perfectly whole now have that gift because of the number of strangers and kind people who prayed for her? If we had decided not to, would she have lost a toe? If ten people hadn’t prayed, would she have lost a foot, a leg? How does it work?”
“Hush! Hush! Accept it! We have the trust in the Lord!” my wife soothed, then answered a call from the other room. Together, we helped our nineteen-year-old daughter Beth from her bed, helped her attach her prosthetic leg to one knee and the foot unit to the other ankle, helped her steady herself as she learned to walk again, using crutches now, but determined not to have to, to dance, she said. Remembering that we too had been given small hope for her life and seeing how much life was in this courageous girl, how her will had been tempered to steel, I wondered which was the greater miracle: the one where a girl had been completely restored or this one where the girl had now to finish the job and restore herself.