We can indeed be thankful that Gabrielle Giffords survived the attempt to take her life. It was a horrifying event, a slaughter of innocents, and an assault on our Republic. No doubt Giffords faces a tough recovery.
But was her survival a miracle, as I have heard numerous people claim? Today The Christian Post reported, “About 77 percent of American voters said they believed that prayer literally helped Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survive the Tucson shooting, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.”
Was it miraculous that the murderer killed six and wounded fourteen more?
If God were interested in miraculous intervention (and if he existed), why would he wait until after the bullets struck their victims to take action? Following are some examples of what might have been truly useful and impressive miracles. God could have placed the murderer in a force field to prevent him from shooting people. God could have called down from the heavens, “Be warned! Take cover! A mass murderer is approaching your location!” God could have given all the victims temporary superpowers, such that the bullets bounced off of them (like Superman). Or, God could simply have totally healed Giffords on the spot.
If miraculous intervention kept Giffords alive, why didn’t God step in to save the six people slaughtered? Did God not care about them? Were they not worthy of miraculous intervention? Were the prayers of their loved ones not honored by God?
True, people shot in the head often die, so, given the fact that Giffords was shot, she was relatively lucky to survive and start down the path to recovery. But she was immensely unlucky to be shot in the first place, so to call her subsequent survival a “miracle” is to abuse the language. One might as well claim it was a “miracle” that she was shot and six others died.
We take some comfort in the fact that Giffords survived the shooting, and we hope for her recovery. But, in recognition of the immense trauma she in fact suffered, and out of respect for those who died, let’s not chalk up the events of that day to miracles and prayer.