As Petra sleeps, [the surgeon] retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions. The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like “happily” and “wonderfully” and “in a very fortunate way” and “luckily” and “we were really surprised by that.” Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.
It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.
But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.
As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback. It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. “It couldn’t have gone better. If it were my daughter,” he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, “I’d be ecstatic. I’d be dancing a jig.” He smiles. I can’t keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.
Denny Burk gives this commentary…
What a smiling providence from God. What an absolute wonder. God did plan it this way. God did have that bullet in mind when He was knitting Petra together in the secret place (Ps. 139:13-15). God had all of Petra’s days numbered before she took her first breath, and her death would not come one day before the Lord’s appointed time (Ps. 139:16).
As we grieve the deaths of so many others, we can be grateful for this one little ray of light. And we can acknowledge that this was no accident. I don’t know why Petra lives and why the precious little six year old does not. But I do know that God is sovereign over all (Eph. 1:11). His ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9). His judgments are inscrutable (Isa. 40:28). He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). Yet he made a path through the brain of a baby girl, and 22 years later the appointed bullet made its way down the path exactly according to plan and without damaging the girl’s brain.
THAT my friends is God’s Providence!