As a full time Catholic lay evangelist, I spend a lot of time speaking and writing about God’s miraculous power. Even though the Bible assures us that “with God, nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37), our human side often says, “Yeah, right!”. We can read countless stories of miraculous healings in the pages of Sacred Scripture, but somehow we have difficulty trusting when faced with a crisis in our own life. Like the Apostle Thomas, we often need some visual proof that miracles really do happen.
Sixteen years ago, after struggling with infertility (and, believe me, it was a struggle), my wife Eileen and I were THRILLED to discover that she was pregnant. We were even MORE THRILLED to learn that we’d be having twins! That excitement lasted for one hour, when we received a call from the doctor informing us that both babies were in serious danger. The following day, we were told that our twin girls were suffering from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which is often fatal. What was especially difficult in our case was that Eileen was only in her 18th week of pregnancy. At the time, there was very little that could be done medically, but the doctors were going to “try” to do whatever they could. We were devastated.
Immediately, we named the girls (Mary and Elizabeth) and we began to pray. We wrote to newspapers, called into Catholic radio programs and asked everyone we could think of to intercede for the girls. Although my faith wasn’t the greatest at the time, I prayed as if their lives depended on my prayers. As the weeks progressed we were blessed with more prayers and inspirational messages than we could count. We were also told numerous times that the girls would die. Yes, the doctors didn’t pull any punches with us. Somehow, however, we felt a sense of peace throughout the entire ordeal.
On October 27, 1997, the girls were still alive (although Elizabeth had developed congestive heart failure and Mary was severely anemic) and the doctors decided that it was time to deliver them. Although Eileen was only in her 28th week, this would at least allow them to be treated medically. And so it happened…on this day sixteen years ago, Mary (1.5 lbs) and Elizabeth Zimak (2.5 lbs) were born. Here is what they looked like on that day:
Despite all of the warnings and dire predictions, Mary and Elizabeth were alive. In addition to battling all of their existing medical issues, they would now be faced with additional challenges, due to the fact that they were born three months premature. Eileen and I continued to pray and face life one day at a time. Although there have been many challenges, the Lord has always been there for us. Now, sixteen years later, we can honestly say that we’ve witnessed a miracle. Here’s a picture of the girls taken earlier today, on their 16th birthday:
Now, before you dismiss this post as the “cutesy” gushing of a proud father about his daughters, I want you to remember something. In your lives, you may be facing or will be facing many challenges. You may be told by doctors that you or someone you love has an incurable illness. You may be unemployed and feel that you will never get a job. You may wonder if your children will ever return to Church. In all of these cases, you will be tempted to accept the conventional wisdom of the world and stop believing in miracles. During those times, I’d ask you to remember the story of Mary and Elizabeth Zimak, who are alive and healthy. The Lord can AND DOES still perform miracles. Don’t ever stop believing that. He may not always answer your prayers in the way you’d like, but have confidence that He always answers them in the way that is best.
Finally, Eileen and I would like to wish Mary and Elizabeth a happy 16th birthday. Mom and I love you, girls. Thanks for being such great daughters and for reminding us that God still does perform miracles!