The following is a true story written many years ago by someone I love and miss dearly, and when I come upon things she wrote, it’s like hearing her voice again. She endured far more than her share of suffering throughout her life but somehow remained one of the most optimistic people I ever knew, and she never lost her faith. I suppose many would have dismissed what happens here as mere coincidence, but my beautiful sister saw it as evidence of God’s love. She believed in miracles. Her whole life was a sort of miracle.
And here’s the story, in her own words, exactly as she typed it on the sheet of paper I hold in my hand; she would have loved for me to share it with you:
“Who would have thought that the harsh, dark winter of 1983, when everything was going wrong, would turn into a season of hope?
I was in the hospital again, quite ill with complications of congenital kidney disease. At least it was warm in the hospital. Our heating oil had been burning more quickly than we could afford to replace it in the drafty old house we rented on Long Island.
In the wee hours of that bone-chilling morning, Henry began the long trek home. There was fresh snow on the ground and he could feel the biting dampness through his old, worn-out sneakers. He trudged on, hoping that he would be lucky enough to hitch a ride from a passing car before losing all feeling in his feet.
Henry and I were still newlyweds, struggling along with work and school. While he strained to keep his eyes open at his night watchman position, grab a couple of hours of sleep at home, then rush off to school as a full-time engineering student, I attended classes at a different college and became a homemaker on our nearly nonexistent budget.
This particular day had begun on a sour note when our wreck of a car stalled as Henry attempted to drive home from work. With me sick again, we were both under tremendous stress. We had no family near to rally behind us. If not for the wonderful people at our church calling and delivering hot meals, we would have felt completely isolated and defeated.
Henry phoned to inform me of the new obstacle we now had to contend with: we had no car. Never having had the luxury of owning a new car, Henry had grown quite adept in auto repair just keeping our clunkers on the road. As it turned out, he needed a specific tool, a one-half-inch, open-end wrench, so that he could tighten the car’s distributor. He didn’t own this tool, nor know of any friends who had one.
So he was stuck in the middle of nowhere, cold, hungry, physically and emotionally drained. I felt so helpless. What could I do, sitting in a hospital? How could I help my husband? I began to pray…
I asked God to guide us through our difficult times, to give us strength, and especially to let Henry know he was being watched over and loved. That was my small prayer. It seemed so simple, almost insignificant, compared to the serious health problems I was facing, along with our desperate financial situation.
In the wee hours of that bone-chilling morning Henry began the long trek home. There was fresh snow on the ground and he could feel the biting dampness through his old worn-out sneakers. He trudged on, hoping he would be lucky enough to hitch a ride from a passing car before losing all feeling in his feet.
He had walked about one mile when he spotted something glistening in the snow. He hurried to retrieve what he figured was loose change. At least with that he could buy a cup of hot coffee at the deli and warm up a bit. But as he bent over to pick up his find, he no longer felt a need for hot coffee or even shelter from the bitter cold. A great spiritual warmth enveloped Henry’s entire being as he stared in awe at the miracle granted to him.
What had been glistening in the snow like a beacon of light was the exact one-half-inch, open-end wrench that Henry had described to me on the phone, the one tool he needed to repair our car but did not own.
Henry went back and got the car running. It was not the last time that it broke down. It was not the last time I was hospitalized, either. My health problems actually worsened and I suffered through numerous medical procedures and treatments. It took a few years for Henry to earn his scholastic degree and give us financial security. I wish I could say that our life together went perfectly smooth and trouble-free after that night. Whose life is ever perfect? But that doesn’t make finding the wrench any less a miracle.
To us the wrench in the snow was a sign of God’s love. It gave us hope during a hopeless time. It was an affirmation that prayers are answered and miracles do happen. It gave us the strength and courage we needed to keep believing in ourselves, in life, and in a loving God.
We still have that wrench in our garage, and sometimes I go in there just to look at it in wonderment. I imagine an angel holding it and placing it in the snow for Henry to find. And no matter what our future holds, good or bad, no one can ever take the miracle of the wrench in the snow away from us. No one can ever take away our faith. On a dismal winter day in 1983, a miracle was glistening in the snow. And there was hope.”