Fathom Mag
Article

What if the miracle is right around the corner?

Published on:
November 23, 2020
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4 min.
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Six Decembers ago, my mother laid quiet in the hospital bed set up in our home, breathing softly, slowly. Stubbornly. Two weeks prior, the doctor had said she would go any day. Days later, the hospice nurse stood at the front door, packing her things, and told me it would probably be tomorrow. A few tomorrows after that, my aunt sent me to buy a black dress, saying surely it would be this weekend. But my mother kept breathing.

Outside her bedroom, my dad and I screamed. I hope she couldn’t hear. Thanks to the tumors, her brain was fuzzy by then.

There was a clinical trial in San Francisco, two thousand miles away. To dad it was the final, faintest flash of resurrection hope. To me, a reckless waste of time.

To me that December, hope was too dangerous, too tiring. It was easier—for everyone—to be done.

“This doctor wants to give her a chance! And we have a place to stay. We just need to get her there.” The past year had battered him, but he clung to his vows with cracked fingers, not ready to part.

I fought back. “She’s dying! She’s going to die. Listen to what they’ve been saying. Look at her! She’s not there anymore.”

“She’s not done! We have to try. What if the miracle is right around the corner? What if he just wants us to have faith?”

“Not everyone gets the miracle, Dad. Not everyone gets healed. It’s okay to be done. Let her be done.”

Later, upstairs, my older brother stood in my doorway. 

“Do you think you’re better than him because you want mom to die?” He looked me in the eyes, questioning, cutting. 

The question he asked me is now the one that echoes every time I hear prayers for the miraculous in the face of death—when believers audaciously claim healing for a terminal disease, when a family prays for eyes to open after a brain injury is declared non-survivable, when breathing stops and the choice is made to pray for resurrection.

The bleeding woman. The widow’s son. Lazarus. It’s certain—miracles have happened, the sick have been healed, the dead have been recalled to life. 

Why not ask God to do it again? For centuries the faithful have poured out prayers for healing at the eleventh hour, believers begging God to provide another breath, and another. 

And yet, six Decembers ago, my mom, or what was left of her, kept breathing and I wanted her— 

What?

Back. Her old self. Her full self. The one who’d play basketball in the backyard and sing songs to the dogs and called me “sister” more than the name she’d put on my birth certificate. I didn’t want her dead, I wanted to get swept up again in her vibrant, rushing river of a life. But I’d spent the last year watching cancer slowly siphon her passion, her strength, her humor, and leave us all cracked.

No, I didn’t want her dead. But the past year had been a knife driving deeper into flesh with every piece of bad news. I just wanted it out. I just wanted the scene to be over. She would get heaven, and we’d get the open wound—but at least it could start healing. 

The truth: I’m scared. Scared to see what God might do with such reckless faith.

To me that December, hope was too dangerous, too tiring. It was easier—for everyone—to be done. San Francisco flitted before us like a shimmering lure, but I saw the hook.


“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith,” Paul says. When does the shield become the weapon? 

The paralytic. The centurion’s servant. Jairus’s daughter. Stories of restoration and resurrection—these are lifelines some grip tightly. They wield belief like a glistening sword to slice through doubt and death itself.

“What if the miracle is right around the corner? What if he just wants us to have faith?” My dad swung the weapon. But he only cut me.

Faith weaponized leaves scars.

I believed God could have healed mom in her final weeks. I just didn’t believe he would. I didn’t dare declare that her time was not done—if I believed she’d be saved and she wasn’t, what would that say about me? What would that say about him?

So I told my dad, and I told myself, that not everyone gets the miracle. We didn’t go to San Francisco, and mom died that winter. The scene ended, the hostages released. I wasn’t disappointed in God. There were questions, doubt, sadness, and longing, but never disappointment. I had given him my reasonable faith, and he had given me the reasonable end. I had put my hope on heaven, not here. He met my expectations.

Don’t they know that not everyone gets the miracle?

And yet, every time I hear someone declare the unreasonable, I hold my breath. We believe a miracle is coming. We’re claiming healing. We’ll never give up. God can do anything. 

I want to scoff. I want to brush them off as crazy, as irresponsible. More than anything, I want to see an if. Don’t they know that not everyone gets the miracle?

The truth: I’m scared. Scared to see what God might do with such reckless faith. Scared to see what I might have missed. And I’m jealous. Jealous of impossible belief. Jealous of expectations for mountains to move.

“Pray with us in boldness,” they ask, “because we believe God will heal . . .” If he wills. I add it myself. My prayer looks different than the ones they call for. I’ve cushioned the edges. 

Lord, please heal. And if not, you are still good. And if not, you didn’t forget me. And if not, you didn’t forget them. And if not, one day you will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more. 

Lord, help me believe it. 

Hannah Lang
Hannah Lang lives in College Station, Texas, where she works in communications at Texas A&M’s alumni center and writes for their magazine. By night, she pursues a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and writes on her blog at hannahmlang.com.

Cover image byBret Kavanaugh.

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