Summary: Miracles still happen for those with the courage to look and the faith to see.
Whatever Happened To Miracles
Whatever happened to miracles? Some say that the scientific era has crucified miracles. I disagree. The real perpetrator in this attempted
murder is language. We have lost our ability to recognize and describe the miraculous with our language. When a girl and a boy meet, marry, and live happily ever after we refer to it as “fate.” When two people are reunited after years of strife we say, “time heals all wounds” when we should say it is a miracle. When someone is sick and recovers over a period of time and not instantly we see it as a natural consequence of surgery and medication. Our language fails us, we have fate, luck, natural consequences, everything but miracle. One Native American culture had a word for miracle, it happen to be the same word as “rain.” Whenever it rained they described it as a miracle. Whenever the flowers bloomed they described it as a miracle. We know better don’t we? When warm air meets cooler air we get rain. When spring comes the flowers bloom. It is not that miracles don’t happen, it’s that we no longer explain them as miracles.
Looking for Miracles
In “Sunday School Times” a story is told of an Eastern king that illustrates at once our delusion respecting natural processes, and also God’s work and presence in them. The king was seated in a garden, and one of his counselors was speaking of the wonderful works of God. “Show me a sign,” said the king, “and I will believe.” “Here are four acorns,” said the counselor, “will you, Majesty, plant them in the ground, and then stoop down for a moment and look into this clear pool of water?” The king did so, “Now,” said the counselor, “look up.” The king looked up and saw four oak trees where he had planted the acorns. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed, “This is indeed the work of God.” “How long were you looking into the water?” asked the counselor. “Only a second,” said the king. “Eighty years have passed as a second,” said the counselor. The king looked at his garments; they were threadbare. He looked at his reflection in the water; he had become an old man. “There is no miracle here, then,” he said angrily. “Yes,” said the counselor, “it is God’s work, whether he did in one second or in eighty years.”
Miracles are not just God’s deliverance for the unprepared. Miracles are God’s gift to the expectant ones. Miracles happen without faith about as often as Azaleas happen without spring. So miracles come to those who are willing to accept them and live expecting them. Yet miracles do not always happen the way we expect them to. The miracle of rekindling a marriage may not happen overnight but it may over time. Miracles show up in strange places. The people had prayed for a Messiah, someone to deliver them from the Romans. They thought their miracle would take the form of a soldier or politician but he came as a baby. God’s miracles are not always what we want, but they are never less than what we need.
Miracles only happen to those who have eyes to see them; the rest of us live in the dark world, the world of Archie Bunker, and the world where we see the facts and nothing else. Most of you will remember Archie Bunker from All in the Family. There was his little girl who was married to Meathead, and Archie’s wife, the “dingbat.” In one episode Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school reunion. Edith meets an old classmate, Buck. In the years since high school, Buck has put on a few pounds and now he is downright fat. Edith and Buck have a touching time remembering old times and the things they did together, but Edith never notices how fat Buck has become. Later when Edith and Archie are alone, Edith says in her whiney voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person?” Archie looks at her with disgust and says, “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp.” Edith gets her puzzled expression on her face and says something quite profound, “Yeah, ain’t it to bad.”
We see what we want to see and in so doing, we disregard the miracles of God as natural occurrences. So pay attention.
Miracles where faith and participation meet God’s grace.
Miracles require both our faith and our participation in them. First our faith. Mary first conceived Jesus in her heart before she gave birth to him. There is more to a miracle than what we see; like with icebergs, there’s a lot more that we don’t see than what we do see. The miracle of the Hebrews being freed from Egypt begins with a burning bush in the Midian desert. It was here that Moses believed God had called him to go to Egypt. The miracle Mets of ’69 would not have won without faith. The miracle on ice in the 1980 Olympics when the U.S. men’s hockey team won the Gold medal, began in training camp when they believed in themselves. The birth of Jesus is a miracle because of the faith of Mary and even Joseph.