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During another hectic holiday season, I wonder about how many people there are like me who are feeling a little too thinly spread out and fragmented from daily stress, despairing over political and religious differences, tech overload, and, ultimately, lost connections to what matters most.
With that running in the back of my head, I wanted to press the pause button for a moment and share a bit about my understanding of faith and why I think finding and living a faith filled life is so critically important. Whether you have identified yourself as Jewish, Muslim, Christian, someone who believes in a universal power, or just someone who considers themselves to be generally a good person with an open mind who wonders from time to time if there’s something out there watching over us, I think the key is to just start to look and listen again (or for the first time). For multiple reasons, I’m convinced that there is a God out there who cares for us and calls us to us everyday if we open ourselves up for even just a moment to seek aid and listen.
Being a science-minded type individual with a streak for independence and never wanting to give up control of anything, I’ve been fortunate to have participated in a journey which has provided me with all the evidence I’ve been looking for to convince me that there is a God and a way to be truly happy. Part of that journey is just being aware of how God works among us, sometimes in very subtle ways that many may ascribe to just chance, sometimes in much more direct ways that can’t be reasonably explained by anything other than calling it a miracle. With that in mind, I’ll share just a few stories.
One, in thinking about the balance of what some may call coincidence vs. the sometimes seemingly shaped ways our lives are played out, there’s this piece (https://www.foxnews.com/health/haiti-boy-gets-miracle-treatment-for-deadly-tumor-after-meeting-american-missionary-there-is-nothing-god-cannot-do). A brief story about a Haitian boy with a significant facial tumor who was visited by a missionary (who was Christian) who saw a child in need and had the willingness to help, who connected with a visiting doctors group that happened to include an oral surgeon (who was Jewish) who felt the same, and the child’s family was further aided by a family in the US (who was Muslim) who opened up their home to him and his family. At the least, it’s a great story about humanity being basically good to each other. On the other hand, it may be a fine example of how there’s a master plan at work that we don’t often see until the results have become clear.
For another view, there’s the story of a way smart kid from Detroit with little means but a very high SAT score. That score got him into Yale where he began his dream of becoming a physician. However, the realities of college life and the stress associated with it put him in danger of failing out of his pre-med program. So he prayed for help and direction to God and fell asleep the night before his big exam. During the night, he had a dream of being alone in a classroom, when in walks someone who starts writing on the class board. He notices that the board is getting filled up with multiple chemistry equations. So he wakes up, tries to jot down everything he can remember. The next day, he goes to class for his exam, opens the test book, and proceeds to see al the chemistry problems that he saw in his dream. He goes on to graduate, receives his medical degree. At 33, he became the youngest director of pediatric neurosurgery in the country, performed the first successful neurosurgery on a human fetus, developed new methods of treating brain stem and spinal cord injuries, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The individual of this story? Ben Carson, previous candidate for president and current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Another story that grabbed my direct attention has to do with a Baptist preacher, Duane Miller, who was struck by a flu virus that took away most of his voice, leaving him with a gravelly, raspy sound to a very faint voice. After 3 years of repeated doctors visits, the diagnosis was that the flu virus had destroyed the nerves of his vocal cords with little or no chance of recovery. So he left active preaching and worked in other areas for a time with varying levels of success until he was called back to speak to his former Sunday school class. While reading a passage about God’s healing grace to the class, his voice suddenly came back to normal. What makes this situation so unique, is that the class he was teaching to was in the habit of recording sessions by presenters and you can actually hear this event unfold (check it out, its pretty awesome). You can learn more of the background story here (https://jamesbishopblog.com/2018/04/01/the-incredible-healing-of-pastor-duane-miller-while-preaching/) and the audio recording is here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuBV3uPxaAc)
While I know bad stuff will continue to happen, and life often gets really really hard, and I can’t explain why some of these things happen despite our most fervent hopes and actions, I also know that there are many good people out there, from different faiths, cultures, backgrounds, etc.. who believe in doing good and self-sacrifice to help out those around them. I also know that there’s a God out there who loves us all, who has a plan for us that can lead us to be the best possible people we can be so long as we open our minds and hearts, call for help, and choose to listen.
If you haven’t taken the time in a while to engage in your faith community, I hope you’ll consider doing so, If you don’t feel like you have one yet or you feel something critical is missing from your life, study up on the different faiths, ask for help from God, and renew your journey as I believe there’s something to be learned from everyone around us about God, our purpose for being here, how to live a full life, and come closer to a true sense of happiness. (ps. If you are interested in learning more about the chronicling of modern-day miracles, check out the work from Lee Strobel (former atheist and editor for the Chicago Tribune) titled The Case for Miracles (which includes the references to Ben Carson and Duane Miller.) - you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Miracles-Journalist-Investigates-Supernatural/dp/0310259185/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1545668823&sr=8-3&keywords=strobel
If you have your own version of a miracle story you’d like to share here and help lift up each other’s spirits, please feel free to do so. Blessings to you all, Peter