I'd like to tell you an amazing story.
I can call it amazing, because it has nothing to do with me.
And yes, it is a Christmas story.
A wonderful Christmas story.
Last week, on the eight anniversary of Ethan being injured, my sister went into a grocery store to pick up a couple of things for her son-in-law's birthday party. It's a store where she doesn't usually shop, but that day it just happened to be convenient.
She laid a few items on the counter and reached into her purse for her cash. As she handed the cash to the clerk and looked her into her face, she thought she recognized her.
Her hair was different, and she seemed awfully thin, but my sister knew it was her.
Debbie, my sister, asked her if she had worked for the grocery chain very long.
The clerk said "yes."
Debbie asked her if she had ever worked at the store closest to Debbie's house, and if she had, was there any chance that she had been working there eight years ago?
The clerk, though puzzled, thought for a moment and then smiled and said, "Why yes. I did work at that store eight years ago."
My sister then asked her if she remembered a woman, who while checking out groceries the week before Christmas eight years before, had asked her if she believed in miracles.
The clerk said, "Yes. That was you. It was your nephew. Your sister's boy. I prayed for him but I never knew what happened."
My sister, the one seeking a miracle for her nephew, and the clerk who believed in them, were brought back together eight years to the day on which Ethan was hurt, at a grocery store across town from where they had first met.
They were brought back together by a God who sees everything.
By a God who saw a young man who had made a terrible choice, who was sitting alone in his apartment barely breathing, for hours.
A God who saw a mom and dad out shopping for Christmas presents that their child would never be able to enjoy.
A God who saw doctors and nurses, who would soon be standing over our Ethan, believing he was gone . . . that it was too late, but willing to use their skills and experience to allow God to work through them.
A God who saw a big brother at home, waiting for hours, days, and months, to know if he would spend the rest of his life with or without his best friend.
A God who saw an aunt, with tears streaming down her face in a grocery store check-out line, desperately seeking a miracle for her nephew, and for me, and for Jim, and for Seth.
And a God who saw one of His precious children, working as a clerk in a grocery store, that believed in Him and what He could do.
The God who sees, is the God who left heaven, took on flesh, and became man to dwell with us. (John 1:14)
Last week my sister was able to share how God showed His glory by waking up the nephew for whom the clerk had prayed.
She shared how God had given Ethan back his memory, his intelligence, and his wonderful sense of humor.
Debbie told the clerk what a joy and delight Ethan is to our entire family.
As my sister was sharing this amazing Christmas story with me, we were both crying on the phone.
We were crying because the memory of the pain we felt during those very dark days is still very real.
We were crying because our hearts were overflowing with gratitude to the God who sees, and who does more than we can ever imagine or hope for. (Ephesians 3:10)
But we also cried tears because we so desperately want complete healing for Ethan's body.
Loss hurts, even in the presence of a heart full of gratitude.
The God who took on flesh, and came to dwell with us, has shown His glory in the ways he has healed Ethan.
But, my friends, He has also shown His glory the greatest in the ways in which He has not.
His glory has shown the brightest in our darkness.
In the darkness of our loss and sadness, His glory has brought unbelievable and undeserved joy, comfort, and strength.
His glory has brought life.
"Turning the calendar page to December doesn't turn life into this dance of the sugarplum fairies." Ann Voscamp
Oh, how I know Ann's statement is true.
But I also know what memories from past Christmases or a beautifully decorated tree or parties or even friends and family can't do, God can do.
And that my friends, is what I ask for you, and for my sister, and for the clerk at the grocery store this Christmas.
I pray that His glory will shine brightly in your darkness.
I pray that the good tidings of great joy that the angels promised to the Shepherds, as they found themselves in the darkness that Christmas night so long ago, will fill your heart and bring you peace.
"Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest.
And on earth peace,
goodwill toward men."