I watch a lot of Hallmark movies.
As anyone who watches or reads a lot of love stories knows, the two main characters almost always have a big fight, leaving the viewer or reader to wonder if all is lost — only to see the couple miraculously work out their differences and begin a life together.
It’s a tried and true formula, which is a big part of why many of us love these stories. We know what to expect, and we’re not often taken by surprise.
But when I watched what would end up being my favorite Hallmark holiday movie of the 2023 season, I was startled by one line uttered as one main character gave up on the other one. In “Round and Round,” a time loop romantic comedy about a magical dreidel and a woman living the same day seven times, the man she’s fallen in love with gets his feelings hurt and storms out of the house.
Or, he tries to storm. Because the movie takes place in the winter, he has to wade through a pile of coats to find his own before braving the cold. As he’s doing that, his best friend tries to convince him to stay. As the only other person who knows about the time loop and understands how amazing their circumstances are, this friend says, “Don’t leave before the miracle.”
Don’t leave before the miracle.
I’ve been stuck in what feels a bit like a time loop myself. Day after day, I wake up and go about my business only to be smacked in the face by some kind of difficulty, some kind of pain, some kind of trauma. I get a phone call or an email; I open a door or pull out a drawer to find a hidden sin; I discover one more layer of suffering. When I say the hard things have been nonstop for the past few months, I am not exaggerating.
Not that long ago, I faced seasons like this with my shoulders set and my eyes focused on the Lord, the One I knew was with me every step of the way. I envisioned myself as Wonder Woman crossing No Man’s Land, withstanding blow after blow as she shielded herself with both her magical armor and her determination. Sure, the challenges were constant and overwhelming, but I wasn’t alone and I believed God would take me through the battle, giving me strength to face every attack and then healing my wounds.
It’s not that I don’t believe that anymore; I do. I believe God is always with us and will guide us when we can’t find our way. I believe He will give us the strength we need when we need it. I believe He is near to the brokenhearted, covering us and protecting us and holding us close.
But I also know now that we simply cannot walk through every season like Wonder Woman. Sometimes we can’t take another step and we fall on our face. Sometimes we absolutely can keep walking — the other way, as fast and far away as we can get from the troubles plaguing us.
And that’s when God not only gives us the strength and comfort we need but urges us: “Don’t leave before the miracle.”
Don’t give up.
Don’t believe you’re alone.
Don’t run away.
Don’t give into the lie that God won’t show up this time.
Don’t leave before the miracle.
Because there will be a miracle.
Reading about the Israelites can also feel a bit like watching (or living) a time loop, where the same thing happens over and over again. Here’s how that story goes: God’s chosen people love the Lord and follow Him, then they choose to walk their own way, and when they experience the consequences of their sin, they cry out to God for help. The book of Isaiah addresses their repeated mistakes and warns of the dire consequences they’ll experience as a result.
But Isaiah isn’t just a book of warnings and bad news. It’s also a book of hope.
Isaiah assured God’s people that God had not forgotten them and would not ignore them or leave them alone. He passed along God’s messages, promising to hold their hand (41:13), to make a way in the wilderness (43:19), and to always be with them and help them (41:10).
Because of the words of Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets, the Israelites knew God would not leave them alone in their pain and problems. They trusted that He had a plan. They believed that a miracle (a Messiah) was coming. And while they waited, they experienced a miracle in the hope that the Messiah would someday arrive.
The miracle was coming, and the miracle was already here.
Sometimes the miracle looks like actual healing, a literal rescue, a physical change in circumstances. Sometimes the miracle is a friend to walk with you, a message to remind you of Truth, the memory of all the times God has been there for you in the past.
And sometimes the miracle is simply knowing that the Lord is with you — whether you’re standing strong, lying on your face, or running away from it all. He is the miracle, and He is here.
Don’t give up, friend. Don’t leave before receiving the Miracle.