Is Everything or Nothing a Miracle?

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I live my life believing the latter.  These miracles don’t just happen to prophets, the wealthy, or the powerful, they happen to good people that are trying to do what is right.

My grandfather Joseph Strobel saw many miracles in his life. During the First World War he fought in the Austrian Army.  He was captured and imprisoned in Italy and released after the war.  He was exhausted and tired of war. As a result, he decided to go to America.  He moved to New York with his new bride, Beth, and joined the Mormon Church there.  He became very successful in business even though he had only an eighth grade education. He was the church’s stake mission president in New York City for fifteen years because of his ability to speak many languages.

When Hitler rose to power, Joseph could see that war was coming again. He traveled to Czechoslovakia to ask his family to move to America to avoid the horrors of war. His brother, Alois, said he could not leave his country, as he was a soldier in the Czech army.  He wanted to stay and defend his country. Joseph was still in Czechoslovakia when Hitler invaded on March 15, 1939.  Joseph was arrested by the Gestapo as an American spy.  He was held in Pancrac Gestapo Prison in Prague, beaten and tortured for several months. He never told his family what the Nazis did to him because he said it was so awful. One day a German commandant inspected his documents and wallet and found his temple recommend. Even though the nearest temple was in Salt Lake City, far from his home in New York City, my grandfather always carried his temple recommend in his wallet. The German commandant dismissed the guards, stood very near and whispered to my grandfather, “I am a Mormon, too. I will get you out of here.”  The commandant called the guards and they escorted my grandfather to the last train out of Prague to Paris, France (still a free nation at that time). My grandfather, facing certain death, was saved by his obedience to God’s commandments as witnessed by his temple recommend and was able to return to America.

A year later, Joseph’s brother, Alois, was in charge of the underground resistance in Northeastern Bohemia and was capture by the Nazis in 1940 and placed in Gestapo prisons.  He was tortured for three years and beheaded in Berlin in 1943.  His wife, Anna, and his children suffered during the war because everyone that knew them were afraid to help them. It was a hard time for their family, but they survived.  A soldier that served under Alois said that, “Those of us that owe our lives to Colonel Strobl will never forget him.” Alois gave his life defending his country and is remembered as a hero by his family and friends.  

Alois’s family members are heroes to me.  They never gave up and overcame the adversities in their lives.  No greater love has a man then he lays down his life for his fellowman.  Some prayers are answered in different ways.  Sometimes good people suffer through no fault of their own, but God is still there and loves them the same.  Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were spared death by fire but Stephen or the prophet Abinadi were not.  The Lord didn’t love them any less.  It shows that his love is greater than just these earthly experiences. Sometimes the miracle is escaping from adversity while other times the miracle is surviving adversity.  For that is how we come to be more like our Savior. Tender mercies and miracles can be easily seen if we look for them or as we look back on our lives.

A miracle to me is that now, my son, is serving a mission in the land of his great-grandfather, teaching some of Alois’s family the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Can you see the miracles in your life?

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4 thoughts on “Is Everything or Nothing a Miracle?

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’m sure your families are glad to have you home for a few mothns! I think you’ve done an awesome job so far and will be eager to get back on your walk but for now I thank God for all you’ve done on the road and through your messages. God will continue to work through you over your break! Looking forward to seeing you sometime over the home visit! God Bless all 3 of you! Karen

  2. Susan Thomas says:

    “Sometimes the miracle is escaping from adversity while other times the miracle is surviving adversity. For that is how we come to be more like our Savior.”

    Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve been going through my own bout of adversity, and I find myself forgetting all too often that the greatest adversity there ever was was endured, not escaped. The only way the Savior could become who He was supposed to become was by enduring that adversity, not escaping it.

    Thank you for your inspiring message. Keep blogging! You’ve already touched someone who has been struggling with her faith.

  3. Julene Evans says:

    Lance, like you I never knew this about my grandfather, my mother, your grandfathers sister, was not a story teller, so there is little that I know. I do have things here that are written by Grandmother Beth. The story about the Temple Recommend was so inspiring.

  4. Lance says:

    The writer of this blog is my uncle. Dirk is a very generous man who doesn’t need or want any recognition for the many acts of kindness that he performs. Let me tell you that his good deeds are many. I did not know many of the details about my great grandfather’s history. I am very thankful that Dirk has written this post and I have already sent a link to many of my friends.

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