By definition a miracle is not explicable by natural or scientific laws. I believe in miracles. And I’m not talking the 1980 US olympic hockey team win over the USSR (granted that was pretty awesome). I’m talking the literally unbelievable acts of God – things that can only be explained by Him.
But miracles don’t just happen without a process leading up to them. Take for example the gospel of John, which I’m reading right now. There are seven “signs,” or miracles, throughout the book. The first is the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine. We are told that his mom simply says, “They have no wine.” We could go into that statement in how she doesn’t ask but he just “knows.” I will be sure I don’t mention women & their hinting in any way. That might get me in trouble.
Jesus’ response is fascinating, though. He says, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Wow, sounds like he was frustrated with his mom. (Could say a lot about that one, too, but I won’t – I love you, mom!) But he says clearly that he wasn’t planning on coming out of the Messiah closet just yet. Yet he does. (Something should be said about prayer, there, too, but again, not the topic). Specifically that it was water, the jars, the master of the feast, the fact that they ran out of water and more . . . all pieces of the miracle puzzle Jesus enacts all the time.
This first came to mind in Acts 3. Peter and John see a lame beggar outside the temple and he asks them for money. Peter and John say something and do something most of us don’t do to those asking for money: they look in his eyes. They actually have to ask him to look in their eyes! Then Peter says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” They help lift him up, and he’s dancing and singing around. Did Jesus through Peter just say, “Abra-kadabra-walah?” Again, he could have, and the miracle of his walking did happen automatically, but it wasn’t like that.
There was setup involved in these miraculous events. There always is. Why doesn’t God save the people who have terminal cancer all the time? Why does he “let” us lose our homes or jobs? Why doesn’t He just cease all war? Why do people get divorced? Couldn’t miracles be done to avoid these things? You bet there can be. But there aren’t always miracles. And sometimes miracles actually make things harder! I mean, are all miracles good? By definition, it defies “natural” or even “process” laws. Yet, there is a process. But while most times miracles are good for someone or some group, sometimes they don’t seem so for others. I can think of specific times in my life that aren’t worth mentioning, but it can happen. Now don’t get me wrong, some of these examples may sound cruel, but hear me out. The horribly awful man that miraculously survives the car crash who would later become a murderer or adulterer – is that a good thing? When one team “miraculously” wins, I doubt the other team is too cheery about it.
Miracles don’t always “seem” best, but they always are best. Why? Because of their process. Both leading up to them and what follows. In the two biblical examples above, one person asked (hinted) for a miracle (passively, mind you). The other had no thought of a chance a miracle could occur. Sometimes they happen out of the blue and sometimes they are answered beyond our wildest dreams! Moreover, many times they happen without us even knowing! So should we ask for miracles? Or just let them play out? Mary asked for one (sort of). And we see others who do, both verbally and physically: centurion for his son, woman who bled for 12 years, and more. Then there’s others received the benefits of a miracle who had not idea it could be done: Lazurus, Peter’s mother-in-law, and more.
So what does this mean? I mean, is this just some theological rant? I don’t think so. I think we need to both open our eyes and close our eyes. We need to open our eyes to the miracles of our life, both past and present. Ones we asked for and others we didn’t. And we need to rewind and fast forward the moments on either side of those events. We see God’s hand in a unique way. And this causes us to worship Him – so we close our eyes and do so – and ask, boldly, for more miracles, knowing that He can and sometimes will perform them, according to His will.
What great hope is in this! So often I live in the “natural” life instead of the supernatural. I live expecting one thing to happen after another because “that’s just how it works.” I think we ought to live with a certain hope that God is not only alive, but at work in our world. I don’t mean to sound all ideological, but certainly hopeful and trusting. I love Oswald Chambers’ quote on this:
“Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life” (My Utmost for His Highest, April 29).