Nowadays, we use the word miracle figuratively. Either we don’t believe miracles really happen (at least, not anymore) or we believe they can be explained by science or chance. I confess that I have often prayed trepidatiously for a miracle and not had the faith to believe it will actually happen – not because I don’t think God can, but because I think the pattern of past reality is an accurate predictor of whether He will.

But there have been a handful of times in my life where I have experienced something so unlikely and so wonderful that, whether or not you sceptics out there can concoct an explanation for them, I am quite happy to assert that they are real-life miracles.

Saved in Salamanca

In the days before Google Maps was commonplace, I disembarked from an overnight bus from Sevilla to Salamanca. All the other passengers had arranged to be picked up. Meanwhile l was alone in the predawn dark, with no idea where my hostel was.

With no choice but to set out from the bus station on foot, I hoped I was roughly going in the right direction. I hoped I’d run into someone who could point me towards the street location of my hostel. This would have been fine if it wasn’t 3.30am in sleepy Salamanca. 

For what felt like the longest time, there was nobody. The autumn air was cool but I was sweating from trekking with a large backpack – and from a creeping anxiety about being lost in the middle of the night.

The iconic Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain. Photo credit: Mafalda Moura.

And then. A light flashed. An engine hummed. A car emerged from a garage just as I was passing by. The window slid down. An older couple asked me if I was lost and needed a lift. I know you’re not supposed to get in a stranger’s car but thus far, being trusting in situations like this has not led me astray. In this case, it led me to a bed I was so grateful to collapse into.

Chance or miracle? Honestly, I think we should view even less unlikely kindnesses of strangers as real-life miracles.

Somebody wrote this and I don’t think it was me

Some years ago, I shared about the month I spent in Timor-Leste for an internship. I worked on a super interesting report and to this day, I’m not sure how I understood enough of the source material to pull it together. My Indonesian was better then than it is now but I only had between limited and professional working proficiency. My Spanish was better, but this was pre-South America. And yet I was reading court judgments written in Portuguese.

Of course the organisation I interned with did some tidying up and made other improvements prior to publishing, but I was happy even with what I submitted to my uni. Kinda proud and kinda perplexed.

Backside Beach, Dili, Timor-Leste
Backside Beach in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Generosity, just in time

Some years ago, I wrote about a sexual abuse survivor who received a cancer diagnosis. She was a client when I was at IJM Bolivia and I had accompanied a social worker colleague to see her in hospital. Doctors were about to discharge her because she couldn’t afford the treatment.

The same day, a friend from Australia was visiting me and naturally when he asked how my day was, I shared this story with him. He was moved to generosity, and donated the amount required for the initial round of medication which would allow her to stay in hospital and begin treatment. This probably saved her life.

Read the full story about Barbara here. In case you were wondering, a few years ago, I asked my former colleagues how she was doing, and they confirmed Barbara was in remission and doing well.

Bárbara (not her real name) before her first session of chemotherapy.

My aunt is a survivor

In 2018, my sister and flew over to Perth to see relatives. We went thinking it might well be the last time we saw one of our aunts who had been receiving chemotherapy. She was, in her words “stretching” the six months of the three to six months doctors had given her to live. I was really glad I made that trip.

It’s a miracle that it wasn’t the last time I saw my aunt. Thankfully, she’s still with us – and a regular reader of this blog 🙂

For those of you familiar with Bluey and Pinky, they exist thanks to this aunt!

Out of nowhere, a cross …

I’m the last person to think seeing the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast is a sign from God but maybe this example is similar.

Not long ago, I was sifting through old documents in my Google Drive, and came across one that made me curious. When I opened it, it was a blank but for a single cross symbol. I have no idea how it got there. I don’t know what the shortcut for that symbol is and I have never manually inserted a cross symbol into a document. And there was nothing else on the page – just the solitary cross.

A screenshot of the mysterious document. Apart from the cross, the other marking you can see on the page is the cursor which I clumsily did not exclude from the screenshot.

What does it mean? I don’t know, probably nothing specific. It’s not the most profound or constructive of miracles. But I read (past and present tense) it as a reminder that God is present and shows up in the most random of places, bridging past and present.

My miracle man

I know, I know, I know. It’s cheesy. But in almost three years of marriage, I have often marvelled at how I ever met someone like my husband. As a Christian woman in my thirties, it’s a real-life miracle to connect with an available guy my age who’s never been married, has no kids, and who shares both my faith and level of maturity within that.

On top of that, that this man would also meet my parents’ unspoken hopes (y’know, good job, responsible and respectful) and also love Age of Empires II – the odds of that are close to nil, I’d say. To meet one and find there is mutual attraction is like the square root of close to nil.

Photo credit: Dyno at T-One Image & Photography.

Over the years we’ve known each other, and particularly since we’ve been married, the number of things we have in common and the way we complement each other have only grown. It’s beyond any maths.

The camera that came back

After a day of story gathering with a client, I was bringing the work camera back to the office. The DSLR was in its original box with cables and all, inside a green Woolworths bag. But alas, somewhere between getting off the bus, stopping for a coffee and arriving at work, the bag was no more.

I was positive I had left it by the counter at the cafe, while getting my keep cup out of my backpack and then carrying my flat white to work. I rang the cafe and retraced my steps but none of the staff recalled seeing it. To cover all my bases, I also reported it to Transport NSW Lost & Found. 

Honestly I didn’t expect to see it again. I started googling new and second-hand models and resigned myself to forking out $700, even $1,000, for a replacement.

Photo credit: Mario Calvo.

Then out of the blue I received an email from Leichhardt Transport Systems. It looked a bit spammy and the phone number in the footer didn’t match the one on the official website. Suspicious, I called the number listed on the website to check the email was legit. Sure enough, someone had handed in the camera.

Not only did it restore my faith in humanity – it affirmed my belief in real-life miracles.

*

These are by no means the full extent of the miracles I have experienced or witnessed in my life. These are just the handful that come to mind as worth sharing. The more I think about it, the more I feel that life is full of miracles in the sense of good things I didn’t imagine happening, happening. In the sense of how people can change your life but you would never have guessed it when you first met them. In the sense of unexpected beauty or lost things found.

I’m sure that if we think hard enough, we can all make a list of real-life miracles too. We just have to know how to look at life.


Header image: Almos Bechtold.

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4 comments
  1. Yes, I believe God sends reminders like yours, showering us with His presence and grace in our lives. We just have to be sensitive to His presence in our lives. As we celebrate Easter, we are reminded of His precious gift. He lives.

    1. Amen! It’s such a shame we are often too busy or stressed or consumed with other things to see some of the wonder and grace threaded through our lives. Glad to know that you are on the lookout for his working!

  2. Another good article kindling hope in seemingly hopeless situations and so appropriate for Easter. Well done!

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