Looking for God in all the right places.
If God cared about me, why doesn't He do miracles for me?
How many times have I heard that question? Sometimes it sounds like a complaint; perhaps it's really a plea for help. If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, we will see that the Almighty is doing miracles for us all the time -- from the very small and seemingly insignificant to the larger and more dramatic.
If you look back over your life experiences I bet you'll probably find that you, too, have a story to tell. It's a great question to ask your children: Did you see the Almighty's hand in your life this week? Here are a few stories I've heard directly from some adults who answered yes.
When I was 25, my father had a stroke and went into a coma. The doctors said there was nothing they could do and that I should give up hope. For months he lay there. I was allowed to visit him every few hours and although I always hoped he would wake up, he never did.
One night when I left his room, I couldn't take it anymore. I went down to my car in the parking lot and I started screaming and begging God to give me back my father.
When I went into my father's room the next day, his eyes seemed to be focused on me, but still he didn't move or speak. I said, "It seems like you're watching me. If you can hear my voice, close your eyes."
My father closed his eyes.
I thought it might be a coincidence, so I said, "Close your eyes again. I'll count to five and when I get to five, open your eyes."
My father did exactly as instructed. At the moment I knew the Almighty loved me, and I knew I was close to Him.
My family wasn't observant and I didn't go to synagogue very often, but I always took for granted that there was a God and He would help you. One time when I was 15, I was a back-seat passenger in a car with some friends. Suddenly the road disappeared as the car drove over a cliff. It rolled over and over and over finally coming to a halt upside down. I passed out.
When I came to I didn't know whether I was alive or dead. My first thought was that my mother was going to kill me if I never came home! My next thought was that the car would now burst into flames because that's what happens in movies. None of my friends were moving.
I realized that I must be alive. The car had been partially crushed and I couldn't open the door to get out. Then, from out of nowhere, the door swung open and a hand pulled me out of the car. When I turned around to see who had helped me, there was no one there.
I thought, "Oh, the Almighty must have helped me." I wasn't surprised; I was more concerned with not getting into trouble. It just seemed natural that God would help.
My parents were atheists. Faith had no place in our home and none in my education as a child. I went to an Ivy League college where I studied philosophy and deepened my conviction of God's demise. Then in the summer of '78 I left college and drove cross-country, looking to forge an adolescent identity in the hills of California. I had no idea where I was going and no idea what I would do when I got there. I was alone, apprehensive about the future and worn with uncertainty, when in a moment -- frozen with the sudden etched clarity of a Nevada moon -- God whispered in my ear.
One moment I was chilled and brittle with anxiety. The next moment I basked in warm certainty I would find my way. Without words or actions, the Almighty's presence was real and tangible. It was a moment of such intimate and vivid clarity, so completely clear and certain, that in times of stress I still return and nourish myself in its warmth. It was a gift of hope -- I knew God was there, and I knew He cared. I knew if I didn't give up, eventually I'd find Him. Just like He found me.
When I was a young girl, my mother died. All I had left from her was a locket she had given to me. I wore it every day to keep her memory alive.
One day I was swinging on the swings in the school playground and the locket broke and flew off into the sand. We searched everywhere, sifting through buckets of sand, but to no avail.
Years later, my younger brother went to a school carnival and won a fish with a bowl. The carnival organizer had scooped up sand from the school playground to cover the bottom of the fish bowl. Excitedly my brother brought his prize home.
As is often the case with fish, this one had a limited life span and soon died. As I was washing out the bowl, something glittered in the sand. There was my long-lost locket! I knew at that moment that I was never alone, and that I would never feel alone again.
These are some of the more dramatic stories I've heard, but the Almighty is intervening in our lives everyday, all the time, if we are but open to it. Not only is He providing us with the majesty of the ocean and the beauty of the sunset, with the profusion of colorful flowers and the melodic song of the birds, but the Almighty's hand is apparent in the mundane as well.
You may think it's trivial, a "waste" of prayer to ask for a good parking place -- but Who do you think makes sure you get one whether you've asked or not? When you run into the very person you need to speak to at your local Starbucks, when a phone call from a friend wakes you the day your alarm clock breaks, even when the "perfect" outfit is in the store, the Almighty is looking out for you. Are you looking out for Him?
Our job is to recognize His guiding hand and be grateful for His intervention. Even if it's not always an intervention we like. Maybe we don't get the job, the house, the shidduch we think we want. God is speaking to us then too. A world without God's voice would be an empty void. A world of randomness and meaninglessness would be the most painful world of all.
None of us is ever alone; we just need to know where to look.
Feel free to share your stories of feeling God's providence in the comment section below.