Remembering the Miracle at Cokeville

The classroom was filled with angels and saints, beautiful beings who calmed the terrified children and told them what to do.

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Except for the families involved, the event at Cokeville, Wyoming, on May 16, 1986, probably slid into the dustbin of history many years ago.

It was a normal day for the 154 children attending elementary school in this little hamlet—that is, until a young couple entered the building and inexplicably announced that they were taking everyone hostage. Terrified kids—and teachers attempting to remain calm—were herded into one classroom, where they were shown the bombs that the young man was wearing.

“Tell your parents to raise the ransom,” the children were told, “and you will be set free. Attempt to escape and...” The thoughts of a bomb, especially one detonating in such a densely packed area—were too terrifying to comprehend.

Do you remember the outcome? A movie and at least two books were written about what came to be called the Miracle at Cokeville. For the bomb did accidentally explode some hours later, and yet all 154 students escaped without injury.

Soon the parents learned why. During those harrowing hours, many kids later reported, the classroom was filled with angels and saints, beautiful beings who calmed the children and told them what to do. When the explosion came, they were prepared.

Today, when we seem to be surrounded by human tragedies and nature’s devastation, it is easy to feel abandoned, just as the parents in Cokeville probably did as they stood in the school playground. But as they learned, the story was not over yet.

Nor is it over for us. If we remember only one thing—as each new difficulty emerges—it should be that God knows where we are.

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