While my world was collapsing around me, something bigger was happening. The death of my wife and the birth of my daughter triggered, for a brief moment in time, an awesome awakening in the spiritual world.
While our families were struggling to just breathe, thousands upon thousands of people began praying. People I didn't even know were reaching out and trying to help me, my daughter, and our family. They didn't ask permission. They didn't seek attention. They just wanted to help in the only way they could think to help. One of them started a Facebook event, Pray for Baby Miranda. The invitations started going out, people started responding, and then they sent the invitation to pray to their friends. At one point over 50,000 people declared that they would pray for Miranda, in whatever way they knew how.
This response overwhelms me, even today, nearly a year and a half later. Not long after the memorial services, I had the privilege of reading an essay that a college classmate of Sara's had posted on Facebook. Randy Streu was able to put into words the essence of what so many people experienced in those days following the accident. I'm happy to be able to share this essay with you. Thank you, Randy, for writing what God put on your heart, for sharing your hurt with all of us who hurt.
July 6, 2012
by Randy Streu
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My life is poorer for not having known Sara Cole as well as I could have. Both students at Spring Arbor College, we worked together and moved in intersecting circles, even sharing very close friends. Even so, through whatever mechanism it is by which college students’ move, we never had the opportunity to become close friends ourselves. What I remember, though, is a woman of God who inspired in her meekness and humility instant respect and Christian love from those who took the time to know her, even as little as I did. And even if we never spent the time getting to know each other as good friends do, I still am blessed that, for a time, I called her my friend.
She was taken too early from this world, at least if you were to ask her friends. But, of course, God never asks permission when it comes to His purposes, whether or not we understand what they are. However, Sara left the world a better place, both in her direct influence and by her legacy, which lives on in her husband, and in the hearts of the thousands who came together for her family.
When I first purposed to write this essay, it was with a view of celebrating the miracle in the life of Sara’s daughter Miranda. Miranda Evangelene Cole wasn’t yet born when the accident occurred which would take her mother from us. Doctors were able to deliver her, and even start her heart – in itself a miracle – once the family arrived at the hospital. I heard about Miranda’s birth at the same time I learned of the loss of her mother, and shortly after that heard about the continuing struggle to keep Baby Miranda alive. The next day – Sunday – we, along with countless others, brought the family before our churches and before God in prayer. We asked for prayer for Sara’s hurting husband, Chad. We asked God’s mercy and blessing in healing and protecting young Miranda.
That same day, or the day after, an invitation made its way to Facebook for everyone to continue praying for the family. As day progressed, the number of those committed to praying grew into the thousands, and into the tens of thousands. We prayed. We cried. Some sang songs. We took this family – even though, by then, those who never met the family outnumbered by far those who knew them -- and, as the arms of Christ, loved them in His Name. And in the center was Sara’s husband – Miranda’s Daddy – Chad. Chad, the wounded prayer warrior. The man WE all sought to comfort and hold up. He stood and, leaning on Jesus, stood stronger than many men could ever hope. Myself included. For we who were praying, with Christ as our King, it was Chad who was our Captain, and Miranda our standard.
And, after a few short days, in the arms of her earthly daddy, Miranda took her last breath on this earth, and went to her Heavenly Father.
And, even though I had no right to be, I was angry. I was angry at God for failing to provide this miracle for which so many of his children had begged. For allowing this man of such great faith to lose so very much in so short a time. Surely, I railed at God, he’d proven his point with Job. Did this man have to lose everything, too? If the prayers of thousands fell on deaf ears, what hope had the prayers of ONE?
And there it was. The REAL reason I was angry. I wasn’t angry because I thought God failed Chad and Miranda. I was angry because I believed God failed ME. Or, more accurately, if a man of God like Chad could go unheeded, then I didn’t stand a chance. I had wanted a miracle. Sure – I wanted for Chad to be able to have his daughter. As a father, there is no greater blessing for which to pray than for another to have the same thing. But looming behind my compassion and empathy was my pride and humanity. I wanted God to prove He cared. I’ve been told that Faith is believing without seeing – and I do believe. It’s just, it would be nice to SEE every now and then, too.
And then I started reading the comments of those who prayed for the Cole family. And more importantly, I continued reading what Chad himself had to say. And I realized, like many, that God HAD given us a miracle. More than one, in fact. Just not where we were looking.
While we were watching for a sleeping child to awaken, God was awakening a sleeping giant. While Chad’s miracle was God’s gift to him of three beautiful days with his little girl, Miranda herself was OUR miracle. For three days, thousands of people prayed in unity, for a single cause. For three days, we acted as the Family Christ had always intended. For those three days, we held hands, spiritually, and not one person checked his or her denomination at the door. There were no arguments about whether baby Miranda should be dunked or sprinkled on the day she was dedicated. There was no fighting over whether to pray in Old English or Latin, or with your hands folded, or with a Rosary. Nobody debated the merits of the King James Bible versus the Message. Instead, we stood together despite our separation by miles and oceans and dogmas, looked to the One God, and acted as the Bride of Christ – the One Church.
Our miracle is that, for her three days on Earth, Miranda Evangelene Cole, the daughter and legacy of my friend Sara, united the Body of Christ.