Three Kinds of Miracles


So my new "Y Magazine" appeared in the mail this week, and though I dislike the new, extra-large format, there was a great article I wanted to mention. It was a devotional given at BYU by an associate professor of biology, Jamie Jensen, mother of four.

She recounts how she has a rare disease condition that creates terrible scars in her uterus that prevent proper implantation and placenta formation. She almost died after delivering her second child, and was heartbroken when told she should not have more children. Here is how she tackled this trial:

"I needed this trial, and the Lord had a plan. I could have just sat back and prayed, putting all responsibility on God, and waited for Him to bestow a miracle upon me. Instead I went and searched diligently "out of the best books," learned all that I could learn, and sought the guidance of the medical community in helping me navigate these uncharted waters--all with a prayer continually in my heart that God would help me bring my own miracle to pass.

"After finding a world-renowned surgeon who specializes in [the disease condition], my husband and I headed to California for several surgeries, long agonizing nights in hotels with me sick from pain medications, and complicated recoveries. But a year later I brought my son Gage into the world, and after another round of surgey, I brought my fourth son, Emmitt, into the world four years later."

I love that story, probably because it echoes how our family worked with God to bring about our own miracle for three of our sons who have a severe genetic disease. I think God's favorite miracles are not when He waves a magic wand (though that is a real class of miracle), but rather when we, His children, work with Him to create a miracle. Those to me are the most meaningful of all.

But it is also true that there is a special class of miracles we never talk about, one that does not fit this pattern at all. I call them "dark miracles." The most poignant example for me may be this one from the Church News in 2007. I tried in vain to find it online, but cannot. Here is the bibliographic reference for you, though: Carter, Carla Cheney (2007) “Living by the Scriptures,” Church News, November 10th, p. 2. This is what Sister Carter related in that piece:

"Many years ago, I lay in a hospital bed waiting for a call from the newborn intensive care unit where my two-day-old son was in extremely critical condition. The call came and I was told by a well-meaning person that in spite of the seriousness of the situation, if we just had enough faith my son would live. I hung up the phone and lay in bed thinking to myself, 'Faith—my son’s life depends upon my faith.' What an overwhelming feeling that was. I started praying. I pleaded and begged my Heavenly Father for my son’s life—that he would be healed and live. As I did this, I had the strangest sensation that the ceiling over me was solid—that my prayers weren’t going anywhere. After a while the realization came to me that I was praying for the wrong thing—I needed to know the Lord’s will for my son. I started to pray in great humility. I told my Heavenly Father that I knew this little boy was His child, that I knew He had the power to heal Thomas if it was His will, and then I acknowledged that if it wasn’t, I would accept His will, that I would do my best to trust Him. Minutes later, I got the call telling me that my beautiful little boy had died. What I learned through the days and weeks and years that followed was that it took great faith to bow to my Heavenly Father’s will and to let go of my little boy, to trust in Heavenly Father’s love and care and His promises for a future with my son—perhaps even greater faith than it would have taken for Thomas to be healed—as I wanted him to be.”

Somehow, for that little boy, death was the miracle, and faith was the miracle for his mother. I do not pretend to fully understand this, but I do think 'miracle' is the correct word to use. Whenever God clasps us to his bosom in a very individual way, in a way we cannot deny, in a way that is merciful from the divine perspective, there is a miracle, if we have eyes to see it.

Each of these three types of miracles have their own flavor to the affected soul, I think. What has been your experience with wave-a-wand miracles, working miracles, and dark miracles?