The Miracle Question
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of oppression, on them hope has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy. – Isaiah 9:2–3a (NRSV, adapted)
Being married to a marriage-and-family therapist doesn’t necessarily fix things. It isn’t like my wife Jen has some magical pixie dust to toss into the air. But one of the things she does offer is a handful of useful therapist questions.
We are an excellent duo, because I’m very perfectionistic and rather judgmental, and I can easily tell you all the things that aren’t working in life. Jen, on the other hand, is reasonable and takes a rather measured approach to life in general.
So, when I’m all doomy and gloomy, she sometimes asks one of those therapist questions. “If a miracle happened and this [fill in the blank with that moment’s over-the-top disaster] was resolved, how would you actually know that the miracle had happened?”
We call this “the miracle question.” It can be a super helpful question. Also helpful is to keep it in mind for when the miracle might actually happen.
The other day a major miracle happened. I wrote it down just to remember that it happened. From 1:30–2:30pm we had “family cleaning time.” Our children actually helped clean the apartment and did so probably 80% independently. And they did so without complaining. Trash and recycling were removed. Floors were vacuumed and mopped. Bathroom toilets were cleaned.
A miracle. Also the culmination of a year of routine and teaching and cajoling and feeling like it’s never going to happen.
Small victory. And very notable.
How do we know your hope is shining if we do not watch for it? How do we know you have increased our joy if we do not give thanks for it? How do we know your miracle has come if we do not make room for it?
Ann is co-pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn (UCC/RCA) and Chaplain for the Fire Department of the City of New York.