“A miracle is a violation of the normal laws of nature by some supernatural entity of unknown outside force.”
By definition miracles must be rare, a lot less common than we want them to be and much more extraordinary than many preachers lead us to believe. Even throughout thousands of years of history recorded in Scripture, “common” miracles are largely confined to four short periods (the period of the Exodus, the time of the prophets Elijah & Elisha, the ministry of Jesus & the time of the apostles).
I don’t like this. I wish miracles were more common, that every prayer for healing enabled sight, hearing or cured disease; that every prayer for job security avoided the redundancy package; and that every prayer for wayward Prodigals brought them back into the arms of Jesus.
But this is not the way the Lord has designed our world to function. Instead “God has intricately established certain governing principles (laws of nature) that make life work, and they do so most of the time with almost infinite complexity & exquisite harmony.” (Pete Greig)
There are times when I have found this immensely painful & frustrating, but consider for a moment if it wasn’t true. What would it be like to live in a world where we could regularly expect God to perform miracles in our lives? A world in which…
…I may grow old, but never die?
…When I hurt someone’s feelings, God makes them feel better?
…The fire suddenly gets cold when the young child reaches for it?
…People who have wasted their money for years get a windfall because they earnestly prayed for a way to send their children to university?
…When I pray for a hurricane not to strike my house, it turns aside & strikes yours instead?
This sort of world terrifies me. It is not a utopian existence, but a place of chaos & complete unpredictability.
Can God do miracles? Of course. Does He still intervene miraculously in this world? Yes, although not as often as we’d like. But we must realise that some prayers are not answered because they would be detrimental to ourselves, other people or the world in which we live.
In one sense this is actually quite liberating. It means we can ignore the bogus “faith healers” and good intentioned, but ill-advising friends who convince us that the miracle doesn’t arrive because our faith is too weak or that we aren’t praying often or confidently enough.
I honestly believe that God heals people today (even though I’ve never met someone who has been “miraculously” cured), so please don’t hear this as a discouragement to ask for healing. Bring your requests to God & He will meet your true needs, even if He does not give you exactly what you want. But please don’t be bound by the false expectations laid upon us by the devious or ill-informed. Miracles by definition are rare.
(Thoughts developed from Pete Greig’s “God on mute”)