I’ve seen God move in miraculous ways in my many years. Like when I was flying combat in Vietnam in the late 1960s.
The air force assigned me to the F-105 Thunderchief aircraft and sent me to the Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. After three days of orientation, I flew my first combat mission.
I was more than anxious as I headed toward my assigned target, but I took the time to pray. “God, please be with me.” Praying to my heavenly Father brought peace and comfort. I would repeat that short prayer on all 91 of my subsequent missions.
On my 38th mission, my aircraft suffered enemy fire and lost all oil pressure. Ejection was imminent, and that didn’t excite me. At that time, ejections were only 80 percent successful. So I prayed.
Generally, with no oil, a jet engine will continue to run no more than a minute. I’ve even heard the time be as short as 15 seconds. Miraculously, my engine ran for over six minutes, allowing me to get away from enemy territory.
I told the electronic warfare officer in the back of our F-105G to prepare for ejection and headed for the closest airbase.
As I started my descent, the aircraft accelerated to over 450 knots (518 mph). I retarded the throttle and expended the speed brakes—and the engine seized.
My wingman came over the intercom. “You’re on fire! You need to get out.”
I pulled up the nose to slow the airplane and ordered the officer with me to eject. Two orders and some not-so-religious words from me later, he finally obeyed.
Smoke filled the cockpit. It was my turn to eject. I grabbed the ejection lever, said another prayer, and pulled hard. Wham!
The ejection seat fired, and my head slapped down hard on my knee. My chin strap went into my voice box; I couldn’t breathe. Disoriented, I fell from the aircraft. When I finally got my bearings, I realized my chute hadn’t automatically deployed. I quickly grabbed the D-ring and manually opened the chute. I breathed a sigh of relief and then focused on where I was going to land.
The chute was drifting toward obstacles. I tried to steer clear, but I went down hard and broke my ankle. Twelve minutes later, a rescue chopper was right above me. I’d never been happier! The other officer survived as well. After rehab, I, like many others who served, went back to fly 53 more missions. I took more gunfire, and you can believe, the words, “God, please be with me,” were always forthcoming. I had no better protection than the Lord’s help.
I believe God hears all our prayers. He knows our hearts. He hears us when all we can say is “help,” and He welcomes our longer prayers too, when we pour out our hearts to Him.
Of course, God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think He should. Sometimes, for reasons we’ll never know, He chooses not to perform a life-saving miracle on this side of heaven.
Those moments are disappointing, and they can shake our faith if we aren’t careful.
I’ve said my share of “unanswered” prayers too. But I don’t give up on God or doubt His ability to hear and answer prayer. Instead, I trust His love for me and keep asking, seeking, and knocking on the heart of God (Matthew 7:7).
It helps when I think back on the times I’ve witnessed God at work. Those moments serve as powerful reminders of God’s power and grace and give me hope that if He did it then, He can do it now.
Whatever you are facing today, I encourage you to pray about it (Philippians 4:6–8). When you give your situation to God, He will give you His peace and enable you to face the difficult thing before you.
By Gerald B. Hurst, with Kristi Overton Johnson
Gerald B. Hurst served in the US Air Force for 26 years and has also served as a representative in the NC Legislature. Colonel Hurst has been married to his sweetheart, Amelia, for 65 years and still enjoys flying. He has flown over 5,300 hours.