It happened to me in August 2006. I was on holiday at my summerhouse near Sergiev Posad, working on my novel “Last Link.” Unexpectedly, my right hand became sore and swollen. Every movement caused me extreme pain, making it almost impossible for me to use the keyboard. Quickly, I realised what it was: an inflammation of the tendon. I had it before, in 2002. It is a very nasty problem that takes a long time to treat. The last time I had it, I took two weeks of physiotherapy and drug therapy, and could not use my hands for many days.
I dreaded the prospect of returning to Moscow, waiting to see the surgeon in my polyclinic (which would be quite a feat) and then taking a two-week course of treatment. My holiday was ruined, and my plans to finish my novel were upset. I knew very well that I would not be able to go back to writing any time soon. The problem was not fatal but certainly very disruptive.
I went to the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius Lavra to petition Saint Sergius of Radonezh for his intercession. That was not my only reason for the visit, of course. I had not been to the Lavra for a long time, even though my summerhouse was only an hour’s walk away. How embarrassing! I could not stop thinking that my malady was not coincidental and that there was something providential about it.
At the Church of the Holy Trinity, I waited a long time for my turn to venerate the relics of Saint Sergius and say my prayer. “Father Sergius, please help me in my predicament. Please do something about it.”
Honestly, I was not laying much hope on my prayer. I realised that the Lord does not rush to fulfil every human request because He knows better what we genuinely want. Perhaps the sickness in my hand and all the consequences are a part of His providence for me. As the Apostle Paul teaches, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians5:18). Still, as I was leaving the Lavra, I sensed that my prayer was not in vain, and my plea was heard.
In the evening, the pain in my hand ceased, the swelling disappeared the next morning, and I could move my hand again. I stayed at my summerhouse until the end of August and finished the novel. The pain never returned.
It was a miracle, No doubt about it. I cannot prove it, but it is my inner conviction. Any true miracle is like that: it does not push a man against a wall, forcing him to believe. Even when He sends a miracle, He always leaves us the freedom to choose belief or disbelief. As we know from the Gospels. when Christ wrought miracles in Judea, some people chose to disbelieve and dismissed them as deception or even the work of Satan.
Today, little has changed, and what is a miracle to some is not a miracle to others. We can always find excuses to dismiss it as a coincidence, fake, an unknown natural phenomenon, an illusion, or something else. In my predicament, I might say that my condition was not necessarily an inflammation of the tendon, and I am not a doctor to diagnose myself. Perhaps it was something else, and it resolved itself. But even if it was an inflammation, it could have passed by itself. My body might have overcome it without medical help. Or maybe it was some unexplained phenomenon of which there are many in the world.
Still, I believe it was a miracle of God wrought by Saint Sergius. It was given to me, and I could explain it away if I wanted. But I did not. I still believe it was inflammation, and I evoked the name of Saint Sergius and was healed by his prayers.
Before I finish, let me say this: when the Lord performs a miracle in response to our prayer, he also gives us an obligation. After experiencing a miracle, no one can afford to live as before. One must begin to purify one’s soul and eschew all one’s imperfections. With this, unfortunately, I have had little success. A miracle not only delivers us from misfortunes. It also takes us to task, and we must decide what to do about it.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds