The Miracle Question

   Written by on July 13, 2017 at 9:37 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

How do you start your day?  As you wake up, do you say to yourself, “I just want to make it through the day”?

Have you noticed that we all stick with what is familiar to us?  It is an odd fact of our human nature that we stay with the familiar no matter how painful.  We mirror the family patterns we learned as children.  Have you seen the recent commercial that pokes fun at a man who “has become his mother”?  He displays many unhealthy patterns.  Why?  Because that is what he knows; what he learned as a child.   

So how do we break these patterns?  Take two steps, start small, and build on the positives.  Paul (Philippians 4:8) tells us to glue our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.  We are to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Paul is telling us to do the exact opposite of what we normally do; that is, to actively take a stand against negative thinking.

In the 1980s, Steve de Shazer created the miracle question.  Imagine that tonight as you sleep a miracle occurs in your life.  A magical momentous happening that completely solves your problem and perhaps ripples out to cover and infinitely improve other areas of your life too.  Think for a moment and tell me… how is life going to be different now?  Describe this change in detail.  What is the first thing you will notice as you wake up in the morning?

de Shazer designed the miracle question to allow you to enter into a make believe world; to create a picture of your life dramatically changed for the better.  His purpose was to move his clients from centering on the insolubility of the problem, to its solution; to move his clients from focusing on the difficulties of life, to a focus on life beyond the difficulties.  The question ignores the exact means of solving the problem and moves to life without the problem.  It is a creative way of ignoring our typical black and white thinking, and shaking our feelings that things can’t possibly change.  The miracle question has become a cornerstone in solution-focused therapy.

What does the miracle question ask us to do?  It asks us to define and expect our miracles.  Not an easy thing to do; human nature is to worry.  Remember the story of the Israelites coming out of Egypt.  They had witnessed God’s miracles allowing them to leave Egypt.  However, they still worried about their future.  Are you ready to take the miracle question a step further?  Add a part two, what are the miracles you had in your life yesterday.

Here is a real life example of an unexpected miracle.  Bob (of course not his real name) struggled with what he saw as a supreme life challenge.  A part of this challenge involved having a conversation with friends about Bob’s life challenge.  Bob’s anxiety about this impending conversation ebbed and flowed.  Some days, his anxiety was 9.0 on the Richter scale.  Bob turned to Mary (not her real name either) to help with the meeting with his friends.  They prayed about the challenge and the needed conversation.  He repeatedly put off the conversation.  Until one day, it loomed in his face.  The conversation could not be put off any longer.  It just had to happen.  With a sense of approaching doom and dread, Bob called his friends.  Bob set a time when he, Mary, and his friends could meet.  He expected the worse.  Now, here is the miracle.  The friends could not solve the supreme life challenge.  However, the friends shrugged their shoulders and said let’s get on with life.  The miracle, the friends were just friends.    

The friends’ reaction surprised Bob.  Bob vowed to, every day, focus on God’s miracles in his life.  His change of focus did not remove the challenges he still faced.  However, his change in focus helped him see beyond the challenges.  Part two: make the miracles that do occur the familiar.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  Psalm 9:1 

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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