Recently, I watched a video detailing Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s wife’s cancer journey and recovery, despite no reported survivors of the rare cancer until now.
While most of the video shows Tammy’s perspective, Dr. Peterson chimes in occasionally. Though embracing some Christian ideas, Peterson doesn’t profess any religious worldview himself. However, in the video, recounting his wife’s surprising recovery—and her fervent turn to prayer amid her health battle—he says something interesting.
Earlier in the video, Tammy shares that as things worsened, she assured her worried husband she’d be better by their anniversary, despite the unlikeliness of such an outcome. Months later, on the fifth day of a nine-day prayer she’d been reciting known as a novena, her medical team determined her body was healing.
After offering a possible physical reason, Peterson concedes in the video that something extraordinary seems to have happened: “The fact that (the turnaround) did occur on our 30th wedding anniversary, and that is what Tammy had said would happen months before—when she had no way of knowing that or having any reason to assume it—well, I don’t know what to make of that,” he says. “I’m pretty happy about it.”
This had me reflecting back to some years ago, when I realized that when people proclaim that their prayers were answered, often the timing of said answered prayer figured into their conviction. So it wasn’t just the apparently answered prayer but the connection to when it resolved that produced the belief of certainty.
I awoke early the next day, struck by a detail in my own life I’d overlooked. In two days, my husband and I are planning to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our youngest son’s near-fatal car accident on Dec. 6, 2022, to thank God for the miracle of his life and recovery. Thinking of those plans in the wee hours, my mind caught hold of something.
The idea for this celebration is rooted in my husband’s own health journey. A year after the first of his two open-heart surgeries—when he flatlined as he was being opened up—we toasted to his “new life” at a restaurant where our daughter worked with a candle-lit dessert. However, in the wake of last year’s trauma, I lost sight of something significant. Troy’s near-death experience had occurred in December, too, in 2017, with the commemoration at the Olive Garden a year later in December 2018. The date? Dec. 6.
I wrote here about how remarkably the Divine Hand had intervened and spared our son. But only recently did I consider the precise timing of these events; how God had spared my husband’s life exactly five years earlier, to the day—even possibly to the hour. It rivets me in the best way possible.
To me, these “coincidences” aren’t random and without meaning. God wants to reach us, to let us know he’s real. He isn’t some distant deity but a loving Father who yearns for our attention. Well, God, you got mine.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Dec. 4, 2023.]