Daily Thought For November 20, 2020
The Miracle of Cigarettes
If you believe that God exists, then you must also believe that miracles are possible. Christians live by faith, but sometimes, God sends a message to remind us that he exists and has not abandoned us. Drinking tea in the lobby of a Moscow hotel, Alexander Ogorodnikov tells a story about an extremely improbable thing that happened to him upon entering a Soviet prison—something that signaled to him that God led him to that vault of human misery for a higher purpose.
“When they put me in the cell with the other inmates, I said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
Ogorodnikov remembers. “One of the prisoners asked if I was a Christian. I said yes. He told me to prove it. Another inmate said, ‘We are the scum of the earth. We don’t even have cigarettes. If your God will give us cigarettes, we’ll all believe in him.’”
Ogorodnikov told his fellow prisoners that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and smoking fouls it. But, he continued, God loves you so much that I believe he would even give you cigarettes as a sign of his mercy. Ogorodnikov asked them all to stand and pray together for this. Everybody laughed, but they stood respectfully as he led them in prayer.
“That cell was very crowded, but it became very quiet,” he recalls. “We prayed for fifteen minutes, then I told them the prayer was over and they could sit down. At just that moment, the guards opened the cell door and threw a bunch of cigarettes into the cell.”
“That really happened?!” I ask, astonished.
“That really happened,” he answers. “It was incredible. There was the sign I had prayed for. The prisoners shouted, ‘God exists! He exists!’ And that is when I knew that God was speaking to me too. He was telling me that he had a mission for me here in this prison.”
Alexander Ogorodnikov thus began his life hidden behind the walls of the Soviet prison system. But he was not hidden from God. And because of that, as the Christian dissident would learn, God manifested through his fidelity to those damned to die before a firing squad who were desperate for a sign of hope. Ogorodnikov’s connection to God would be, to these wretched men, their only lifeline.
Dreher, Rod. Live Not by Lies (pp. 160-161). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.