I believe in miracles. Not the kind on TV, with an evangelist healing people in front of a crowd of thousands, or the promises that come from a bottle of anti-aging cream. I believe in the miracle that happens when people pray. Whether they whisper it, shout it, mouth it, or sob it, these aren’t the prayers of saints, but the prayers of sinners. People who believe that miracles happen to the ordinary, the luckless, the doubters.
Last year, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He went to the emergency room for back and stomach pain. We thought it was a kidney stone. Instead it was a large tumor in his abdomen. “But he is so young,” I told the doctor, “only thirty years old.” The doctor looked at us and said, “I got a girl in here who’s eighteen years old and terminal.” This was the reality that he had to live with everyday. People get cancer.
We found out that my husband had testicular cancer that had metastasized in his abdomen and was growing quickly. He would need the maximum amount of chemotherapy. He would lose his hair, his energy, his ability to enjoy food, his zest for life. Some days he couldn’t even talk—he was that tired.
But the thing that bothered him the most had nothing to do with the chemo. He wondered what would happen to our adoption plan now that he had cancer. After years of waiting, we were only a few weeks from getting the referral for our child. Now our plans had changed. Our file would be on hold indefinitely, until the cancer was gone.
When people asked how they could help, I told them pray. It’s not that I didn’t need other things. I needed groceries, the lawn mowed, someone to drive my husband to chemo. But those things were already taken care of. More than anything, I needed a husband who could beat cancer.
Maybe the phrase, “I’ll pray for you,” doesn’t mean much to some people, but for us, it was the only hope we had some days. It showed that people still believed in miracles. They still believed that someone was listening and sometimes, that someone said yes.
I know this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the answer is no. And yet, I still pray. This is the paradox of prayer. I pray even though the answer might be no. I pray even when the odds are against me. I pray because something tells me that miracles still happen. The cancer treatments might work. Our adoption might bring us a child. These aren’t just the results of modern medicine or fate smiling on me. These are answers to my prayers.
One year later, we look like an ordinary family sitting around our kitchen table. My husband, now a cancer survivor, is across the table, holding our baby girl. Others only see a father and daughter. But when I look at them, I see two miracles.
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