Our hamster, Sandy, was a master escape artist.

When in captivity she lived in a hamster cage in the first floor laundry. The manufacturer of the cage claimed that it was impenetrable. Sandy thought differently. She spent her days plotting her next escapade as we went about our lives.

Returning from Kindergarten one day my son went directly to Sandy’s cage for a visit. “She’s escaped again!” he yelled. I came to investigate and discovered a hole the size of a quarter just above the water bottle. Sandy had chewed her way to freedom. We searched all the usual places. No luck. Sandy was in deep hiding, apparently determined to remain so. Three days passed and we still hadn’t found Sandy. My son’s small forehead puckered with concern. “Why don’t you pray about it?” I gently suggested. Immediately a simple prayer was lifted heavenward. After church the following day my son told me his whole Sunday School class prayed for Sandy. I imagined nine little heads bent forward in faith to ask the God of Creation to return my son’s hamster.

The next morning our housekeeper was working alone in the laundry when she heard the words “Go to the basement.” She later described that what she heard wasn’t audible but rather seemed to be directly impressed on her mind. The words were so clear and forceful she obeyed. Upon reaching the bottom step of the basement family room she heard “Go to the closet.” Again she obeyed. Opening the closet door she looked down to discover Sandy making a nest of chewed up carpet fibers.

Three years later my husband was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. My son prayed and prayed for his daddy. The Sunday School children prayed. The church family prayed. The pastors and elders of the church prayed. Neighbors, friends and strangers prayed. After nineteen months I was a widow and my children were fatherless. That was years ago.

Many quiet nights I wonder about the mystery of God and the nature of my faith. I wonder about hamster prayers answered “yes” and husband prayers answered “no”. I press on in my wondering, hopeful still that grief and suffering opens my heart to others and to God in a way that for some reason miracles cannot.