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Miracles: God makes a way

Mildly stated, the issue of miracles has been a troubling one. Do miracles still happen? If so, why here and not there? This issue has been one of the biggest and longest-running controversies of the church.

To be sure, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Era have all added layers of separation between miracles and our daily lives. For many, miracles have been looked upon as anti-science, anti-rational, and anti-intellectual.

Thomas Jefferson, while serving as president, rewrote the New Testament by excising the passages he didn’t agree with. According to Calvin Miller, theologian, minister, and author, most of these passages had to do with Jesus’ miracles, which Jefferson couldn’t agree with. Miller continued, “Jefferson — a Deist [a philosophical position that a god does not interfere directly with the world— would have nothing to do with faith in the biblical Christ. What a poor exchange to barter the Christ of miracles for the Christ of philosophy. Jefferson left Christ smaller than he was.”

On the other hand, countless people have and continue to believe in miracles. For these folks, miracles give assurance of God’s continuing involvement in the world. Miracles point out that God cannot be imprisoned in the natural world and that God’s love and mystery are greater than our hopelessness and tedium.

Writing in his book “Conversations of the Heart,” Methodist Bishop Woodie White says, “I do believe in miracles-the occurrence of acts not explained by rational and logical reasoning, cures and healings that have taken place in the face of contrary medical predictions and evidences … but this is more testimony to the power of God than the claims of men and women.”

I was asking a friend the other day about the welfare of her relative. She replied, “It’s a miracle he’s alive.” She then spoke further about the miracle.

In preparation for this article, I tried to read as much as I could about miracles. One of the things I read was a short sermon by Barbara Brown Taylor, noted preacher and author, titled, “The Problem with Miracles.” I’d like to mention just a few of the thoughts Dr. Taylor shared that I found helpful. She said:

  1. The problem with miracles is that it is hard to witness them without wanting one of your own.
  2. Not everyone who prays for one gets one, not by a long shot, and meanwhile there are people who get them without asking for them.
  3. There is no formula for miracles because God rarely does anything the same way twice.
  4. One of the meanest things religious people do is to blame the lack of a miracle on a lack of faith.
  5. Faith does not work miracles. God does.

Personally, my favorite definition of a miracle is this one. Leonard Sweet, well known churchman and futurist, states that “A miracle is when God makes a way.”

As Isaiah the prophet observed, “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea… Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness.(Isaiah 43:16,19).

If you were asked to name a miracle that God has performed in your life, you might not be able to answer momentarily. But if you were asked to name a way God has made for you when there didn’t seem to be a way, you might answer more readily.

A young wife and mother had just had her third child. She didn’t know how in the world she could take care of three babies, do her housework and do everything else that was expected of her as a minister’s wife. Unexpectedly, an older Christian friend paid a person to come in and help that young mother for nine months. God made a way. Like many of you, I’ve found myself in a number of situations that I wasn’t sure how it would go or turn out. But God made a way. What about the time in your life when somebody held your hand, figuratively or otherwise? What about that time or times when someone was there for you-bringing compassionate caring that resulted in comforting companionship? God made a way. The realization that God makes a way will change your life.

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways. halbradyministries.com