It is ironic that on the same day that David Marshall and Thomas Coyle had what is classed in some circles as a minor difference of opinion, a miracle might just have happened not too far away.
The discovery of Magdeline Makola, dehydrated and hypothermic but still very much alive 10 days after her kidnapper abandoned her to die in a car boot, might just have been miraculous. The statement given on her behalf after his conviction said,
"While I was in the boot of the car it was difficult for me to work out how long I had been there, but one of my strongest memories is realising that it was Christmas Day because it was so quiet outside.
I have a strong faith in God and I spent a lot of time praying that someone would find me.
Praying gave me a lot of strength and when the policeman opened the door I was so happy that my prayers had been answered."
Miracles do happen. They are not fairy stories for small children. Refusal to believe in the miraculous breeds hopelessness and despair. Because it breeds cynicism, hopelessness is one of the principal reasons why so much that happens in the world is just petty and crappy.
Man needs hope to live just as much as he needs food and air. It cannot be farmed like bananas, or mass-produced like didgeridoos or screwdrivers. The industry of hopelessness known as secularism cannot fathom this, its professionally cynical practitioners always and for ever little Thomases asking for proof.
But even after over a week spent trussed up in the cold and the dark, Magdeline Makola, an entirely innocent lady harmed by someone to whom she tried to perform an act of Christian charity, did not give up hope. She asked for no proof. She set her face like flint against every secular value from cynicism to rationalism and kept on praying; and yes, perhaps her prayers were answered, a loving Father showing mercy on His faithful daughter.
The good example of Magdeline Makola in stubbornly refusing to abandon hope during her long ordeal should be shouted from every street corner and rooftop in the world. Oh, to have a fraction of such faith!