If you’re looking for a nugget of encouragement, Ann Spangler offers dozens of stories of hope in WHEN YOU NEED A MIRACLE. This collection is drawn from Spangler’s previously published AN ANGEL A DAY and A MIRACLE A DAY, so in a way this is a compilation of compilations.
The first and largest part of the book focuses on angelic encounters. Spangler explores the gift of angels, guardian angels and messenger angels, as well as angels in disguise. She explains that all too often Christians ignore the role that angels play in our lives. Some are afraid that discussing angels will distract from the wonder and power of God. Others simply struggle to take angelic beings seriously. She writes: “Like it or not, angels are important players in the drama of salvation. Perhaps it’s time we paid a little more attention to these powerful and loving allies that God has given us. True, there are dangers. We must not forget that worship belongs only to God, no matter how beautiful or powerful some of his creatures may be. We must also remember that angels are but one way that God works in the universe.”
Each entry is divided into a one-to-two page reading that opens with a scripture and then offers a reflection or story. “Ladder of Angels” reflects on the ladder Jacob saw in Genesis with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. She reminds readers that the distance between heaven and earth, between God and mankind, was bridged through Jesus.
“The Angel and the Oatmeal” tells the story of a woman who recalls encountering an angel while eating breakfast as a child. The angel wore clothes that appeared to be made out of light and offered her encouraging words she needed to hear. When she was done eating, the angel disappeared. Though she never told anyone about the encounter, that was when God became real for her. It was a turning point in her life and a powerful reminder that God would never leave or forsake her.
The short readings range from personal stories to theological reflections to testimonies of others who have encountered angels. This diversity helps keep the reader’s interest throughout.
The second part of the book focuses on miracles and examines the miraculous events that occur when you pray as well as miracles of healing, life and death. In “The Wedding Miracle,” Spangler examines the wedding in Cana and Jesus’ turning water into wine. She writes: “Remarkably, this wonderful miracle came about because Mary noticed someone else’s need and brought it to her son’s attention. Because of the simple prayer of a compassionate woman, grace was released that set the saving plan of God in motion. It may even be that the Father was waiting for a prayer like hers before shifting things into high gear. Whatever the case, we should be encouraged. The miracle urges us to pray.”
Overall, WHEN YOU NEED A MIRACLE is an encouraging book. Recommended to fans of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2011