I suppose there’s some debate about the definition of the word “miracle.” Granted, it’s often used in ways that seem to sleight the word. “It’s a miracle I was able to get out of bed this morning!” Because when you went to sleep you’d been paralyzed from the neck down for the past twelve years?
“No, I was really tired last night.” Okay, doesn’t seem like much of a miracle. Lots of people were still tired this morning but got out of bed anyway.
At the other extreme are those who apparently take the view that if it happened, that’s proof it isn’t a miracle. They pretty much force themselves into denying the possibility of “miracle” and therefore reject any sort of supernatural possibility. No doubt, the multitude of false and fraudulent claims that have been made over the years greatly supports their skepticism.
However… I’d suggest that if unwarranted faith can lead folks into false belief, excessive skepticism can have the opposite effect of false rejection. I’m sort of in between those two extremes.
I am disgusted by the television ad where the religious huckster is urging people to send in for free “Miracle Water.” I’m also disgusted by the amassing of personal wealth and luxurious lifestyle of those who have found the Gospel of Christ to become a means of selfish accumulation. (Some days, I myself don’t know if my feelings on the subject are nothing but sheer jealousy or if they truly stem from righteous outrage.)
On the other hand, I’ve personally witnessed a few things that defy natural, logical explanation and that I refuse to attribute to “coincidence.” I saw a woman who could barely move without pain get up from her bed and practically dance about the house after two friends prayed over her. I saw a chronically depressed man suddenly have a calm and radiant faith even though his wife and his daughter were separately hospitalized. I saw an unemployed couple open an envelope given them by a friend; it contained a thousand dollars in cash. I saw a chronically abusive and insulting man become suddenly gentle and humble. Sometimes, the miracles I witnessed were much smaller.
On Tuesday of this past week, I lost one of my hearing aids while I was working on the hospital grounds to help prepare for our annual mud run. That’s about twenty-five hundred dollars there, friends. On Friday, another employee helped us stuff runner’s packets for the race. She then stayed around for our preparation committee meeting. Only meeting she’s been able to attend over the past three months.
During the meeting, I apologized for having to continually ask people sitting on my right to repeat what they’d said. “I lost the hearing aid for my right ear,” I explained. Patti looked like she’d just found out her scratch-off card was worth a hundred dollars.
“We had someone turn in a hearing aid over in Physical Therapy! We figure it belonged to one of our patients and were trying to figure out how to find out who’s it was.” Well, I believe I can solve that mystery for you…
The odds of someone finding a hearing aid in the grass near a parking lot? The fact that that was the only meeting Patti attended? The coincidence of me mentioning the loss of the hearing aid? That all of those odds blended together at just the right time?
Is it possible that some supernatural force guided each aspect of that in order to bring about such a wonderful result? Some might scoff at the mere suggestion that there was anything extraordinary or even unusual about it. “You just got lucky, dude.”
So, maybe I am one of those who sometimes uses the word “miracle” when really it’s just something truly unexpected. Something that completely defies the odds. Something of extraordinary timing and extreme unlikelihood… uhm, wait a minute… isn’t that close enough?
Whatever the definition, I’ve found that believing that miracles are possible and genuinely appreciating them when they happen works pretty dang well for me! So, if you don’t want any in your life, I know some folks that will be glad to take them.