I have seen miracles – but not in the ways you would think.
When I graduated college, the ER became a pretty routine part of my life. In fact, the summer of 2013 saw me in the ER at least five times, and in the doctor’s office running tests at least another six or seven. These visits were triggered by random events: my throat closing up in the middle of a work day when I’ve never had an allergy in my life, numbness in my extremities, vertigo, difficulty breathing… My most recent visit to the ER was triggered by severe chest pains – the kind that convinced me that I was really about to join my Maker.
And trust me I have run every test imaginable to mankind. I’ve been hooked up to more wires and machines in the last 5 years than I can count. CT scans, EKGs, ultrasounds – you name it, I’ve done it. I’ve been tested for HIV, Lupus, allergies, heart tremors – and each time come out with a clean bill of health. I am honestly tired of hearing doctors rave about how awesome my blood pressure is.
Now, don’t get me wrong – this is not me complaining about being healthy. Lord knows there are many who are praying for those kinds of reports. What I am saying is that there is nothing more disconcerting than feeling physically sick or in pain and having doctors continuously tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. It makes you feel small, and a little bit psycho, in addition to creating this fear in you that there is something severely wrong with you that no one is going to discover until it’s too late.
As I laid in the emergency room this last visit, finally able to form some cohesive thoughts as the morphine dripped through my veins and assuaged the pain the doctors were telling me was essentially nonexistent, I began to ask God why I consistently had to go through these events, and prayed that He would help the doctors find out what was truly wrong with me.
“Why?” He asked back.
I stopped short in my prayers. Why? What sort of question was that? Why did I want them to discover the Big Bad Problem that was causing me all this pain yet continued to remain hidden to every hospital test known to man? Because I wanted to be healed of course!
“Who says you aren’t already?” He countered.
And that’s when a lightbulb went off in my head. Maybe I’d had the equation wrong this whole time. Every single time I had been sick or gone into the ER, I and/or others had prayed for healing for me. So what if the absence of any medical condition wasn’t incompetence on the part of a medical team, but rather the hand of a loving Father who answers prayers of healing for His daughter? Every time I ended up in the ER for one particular issue, I never experienced it again. Had I completely missed what He had been doing? Had I missed the miraculous because it seemed, well, annoyingly mundane? And possibly because I wasn’t expecting it?
When the doctors released me, I went home confident that I’d never experience that chest pain again.
But What is a Miracle?
Google tells me that it is “A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.”
I have come to know better.
When I went home from the ER that day I began to look out for miracles in every day life, and to expect them as well. I began to look not just for the parting waters and the manna from heaven, but also the little whispers of God’s love, the little prayers that may seem like nothing but go without thanks because they seem so mundane that we miss that they were answered.
And as I’ve continued to focus my eyes on see God in the small things, I’ve also also learned to see Him in places I’m told He isn’t or shouldn’t be, like in science and nature. One of my favorite authors of all time, Max Lucado has this passage from his book, ‘In the Grip of Grace’ that says something I’ve carried with me since I first read it at the age of 14:
We understand how storms are created. We map solar systems and transplant hearts. We measure the depths of the ocean and send signals to distant planets. We’re learning how it all works.
And for some, the loss of mystery has led to the loss of majesty! Ironic isn’t it? The more we know, the less we believe. Strange, don’t you think?
But knowledge of the workings should not negate wonder. It should stir wonder! Who has more reason to worship than the astronomer who has seen the stars? Than the surgeon who has held a heart? Than the oceanographer who has pondered the depths? The more we know, the more we should be amazed.
Why then should we worship less? We’re more impressed with our discovery of the light switch than with the one who invented electricity. And rather than worship the Creator, we worship the creation.
No wonder there is no wonder. We think we have figured it all out.
Do I believe that every time I came out of that ER or doctors office without a bad report, God had done a miracle? Yes, I do… and I even almost missed that. But what if I hadn’t? What if the doctors had found something, and gone ahead to prescribe me medicine that would then heal me… would that have been any less of a miracle? We’ve come to believe that the miraculous comes with loud bangs and big waves and a sense of wonder, but sometimes it comes in what may seem like the everyday banalities of life, and we often miss those miracles.
Think about it this way: in the story of Jesus’ first miracle – turning water into wine – the banquet official who was given another goblet of wine to drink had no idea that the wine he was now drinking was once water. Neither did the groom who received the praise for saving the choice wine for last. They had no idea what happened out in the backyard when six jars that were used for the ceremonial washing of feet were placed at Jesus’. They had no idea the instructions that were given to the servants, or how it was their obedience that produced the miraculous. In their eyes, they were having just another glass of ordinary wine.
And what of the Samaritan woman at the well? Did she know that a conversation with a Jewish stranger asking for a drink of water on a hot day would completely change her life around, as well as the lives of everyone in her community?
A miracle isn’t just an event that is inexplicable. It’s not confined outside the realm of nature or science; the miraculous is all around us – even in us. We need only open the eyes of our hearts to be attentive to Jesus’ presence in our lives in order to perceive it.
As we head into 2017, I firmly believe that God is going to show up and show out in way that He hasn’t this year, and I for one do not want to miss a thing simply because it seems to small or too ‘normal’ to be Him. And when you believe God for and expect the miraculous, you know what happens? You tend to see His hand a lot more clearly.