How do we usually spend our lives? Mainly on daily cares and fuss. And that’s understandable, especially if we have a family. We have to feed them, clothe them, put shoes on their feet, provide the children with an education, and then help them find a profession—so that when they grow up they can make their own living, and provide for themselves and their families.
Well, that is how Victor lived, working hard for the sake of his wife and sons. Dima was three and a half, and Kirill just turned six. Victor was a good family man—a loving father, reliable husband and head of the house. That is how he thought of himself, and not only he but also his wife, parents, and neighbors. That is not to say that their household was well off, because in these days and with our pay we can’t keep up with the prices. But there was enough for the necessities.
Then suddenly the unexpected happened. Disasters always come unexpectedly—it’s the good things that people wait a long time for, sometimes all their lives. The children got sick—both of them at the same time. And not just a cold but something serious. They needed an operation right away. At the hospital they were told that it couldn’t be delayed, otherwise the boys might become invalids. Besides their fear for the outcome of the operation—both at the same time!—the couple could not shake their anxiety about the cost. They would need a lot of money—money they didn’t have. And even should the operation be successful, there would be the post-operative period, rehabilitation. How will they manage?
When a man looks for help, he turns over all the options in his mind. It’s good if the search includes the remembrance of the One Who can do anything. For a believing Christian it is not a question. There is Someone to rely on, there are means to overcome the disaster—personal prayer, the prayers of the church, the priest’s blessing. However, to say that Victor went to church would have been a great exaggeration.
He of course knew that not far from them was a church of extraordinary beauty, and he would even take his children to the playground situated next to the it. He had heard that in that church there is a miracle-working icon of the Iveron Mother of God, adorned with prayer beads made of onyx. Dangling from the bottom of the prayer beads is a little bell. That bell was made at the blessing of an Athonite elder and has the symbolic meaning of calling people to prayer. He had been told that parishioners of this church and pilgrims often leave there notes with prayers for help to the Mother of God.
But all of this was something distant from him, not reflected in his own life. Even his sons had not been baptized. Not that he or his wife were against Baptism; it is just that the thought of God never managed to break through the armor of the daily struggle for their daily bread. This misfortune pierced that armor, which had tightly covered their hearts. Then their hearts woke up. Victor remembered! He remembered what people had told him about the church, the miracle-working icon, and the notes with prayers. He later learned that these notes were also be read by the church’s clergy at the molebens before this icon...
He was kneeling in that church for no less than an hour. People coming into the church looked at him—some with understanding, others with perplexity—as he sobbed before the icon. “Help us, O Theotokos! You are a mother! You know how a heart can pain for a child.” When his tears had stopped and all the words had been said, Victor suddenly felt a marvelous peacefulness and gentleness enwrapping his soul. He rose from his knees and slowly walked home. At home he was met by his shaken wife. “Look what happened! The tumors have shrunk by half, on both Dima and Kirill. I looks to me that they will continue shrinking. Perhaps we don’t need an operation?
They didn’t need an operation. The dangerous illness left as unexpectedly as it had come. A miracle? Yes, it’s a miracle granted according to the faith that had just awakened in a father’s heart, at his fervent prayers. This miracle happened in the Church of the Icon of the Iveron Mother of God in the town of Dnipro (Ukraine). Victor himself told the priest and parishioners about it when he returned to the church, this time with a specific goal: to have a moleben of thanksgiving served and to set a time for his boys’ Baptism.
We are not alone in this world; we have the Lord and the Most Holy Theotokos with us. They take better care of us than the most loving earthly parents. Believe me, this is so. St. Nicholai (Velimirovich) of Serbia in speaking of faith gave this comparison: If a thin stream of water pours on a millstone, the wheel will not move. But if there is strong pressure it will move. That is how it is in our lives. Any situation can be resolved according to your faith in God’s will—if you allow God to help you.