Why I can no longer be a skeptic of miracles

How being an emergency medical technician reshaped my perceptions of miracles

Yehuda and the United Hatzalah team (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yehuda and the United Hatzalah team
(photo credit: Courtesy)

I have always been skeptical when people use the word “miracles,” or make statements such as “a miracle just happened to someone I know.” I had a hard time believing that what had occurred was actually a miracle.

Being involved in the field of emergency medicine, I see a lot of traumatic situations happen all the time. I’ve seen and treated people who lived when they should have died, while others who should have lived passed away. Little by little, seeing these stories take place before my eyes, hearing the stories coming from myriads of first responders whom I know, I realized that even in this day and age, miracles really are happening.

To call something a miracle is to recognize the specialness of a situation that cannot be explained by natural or scientific law. To be present at a miracle changes you. I heard of a miracle where EMTs from Hod Hasharon saved a woman who suffered a heart attack and was 39 weeks pregnant. They “happened” to be nearby, they “happened” to respond in less than 90 seconds, and they “happened” to save both her and the baby.

Then I heard of another miracle in which a young boy was electrocuted when he climbed on top of a bomb shelter. He went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. Three EMTs who were nearby when it happened rushed over to him and brought him back to life. His mother now celebrates two birthdays with him, the date of his birth and the date on which he was brought back to life.

These EMTs aren’t all religious, yet they called these instances miracles when they told me about them. I’m not sure what the biblical definition of a miracle would be in modern times. We don’t have seas splitting any more, and flaming hail isn’t falling from heaven. But miracles certainly exist. They just might be a bit more hidden, and are carried out by people who want to do good things in the world.

I’m not sure how everyone looks at life, but I know that when good people actively seek out opportunities in which to do good in the world, things that were impossible before suddenly become possible.

I believe that we as people need to put in our effort and that the rest will come from God. I recognize that it isn’t always easy and that there will usually be stumbling blocks in the way. Often, there is a good reason for not putting in the effort to help another. But there are so many reasons that become revealed after the fact of how important it was for us to be there for another person in their time of need.

It always helps the person doing the act of kindness more than it helps the person receiving it. We don’t necessarily see the outcome right away, but in the long run, the miracles come back to us and create even more miracles and more opportunities in the world.

We are no longer living in a time when open miracles just happen. But to say that we are not living in a time of miracles is not true. We are living in a time when miracles happen every day. We have to work hard and give of ourselves in order to make them happen. When they do, you can rest assured that the payoff will be tremendous on a personal level, on a national level, and on a global scale as well.

The writer is the father of five children, a social entrepreneur and president and founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, an independent, non-profit, fully volunteer EMS organization that provides fast and free emergency first response throughout Israel.