A dear friend of ours suffered a massive heart attack yesterday morning. As of last night he had not yet regained consciousness, needed a respirator to breathe, and had no brain function. Doctors are giving him a 1% chance of survival—as a vegetable.
Family and friends are gathered at the hospital, and of course we’re praying for a miracle. That’s what believers do, right? But in spite of our professions of faith, it seems that very few of the pray-ers actually believe in miracles. And, they assume, if God does intervene, He only does so on exceedingly rare occasions. As their church pastor pointed out, she had never actually seen a miracle. The whole concept was hypothetical.
Two days ago we had lunch with another good friend. He has spent the last many years doing business-as-ministry in China, and has many ties with the underground church there. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that the Chinese Christians expect miracles. They see them all the time.
All this got me wondering—why does God do miracles in China, and not here in the US? Or is He doing miracles here, but we just don’t have eyes to see them?
I asked God, and this verse immediately came to mind: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13:58) Certainly, lack of faith is a major component, especially in our techno-scientific culture.
But what about times when we have plenty of faith?
Pete and I certainly believe in miracles. We’ve seen quite a few. I’ve written about a few of them… our friend’s incredibly rapid healing from transplant surgery, the way God has provided financially for us, our experiences in Costa Rica, Pete’s survival of a fatal accident. We have no doubt that God can act. The question is, what does God want?
There are plenty of times when we’ve asked God for a miracle and He didn’t answer as we would have wished. Three other people died while attending the conference where Pete had his fatal run-in with the car. They stayed dead. Why didn’t God heal them too?
Many Christians around the world do not earn enough money to live on. Why are we so generously provided for?
One friend had a miraculous recovery from major surgery, and at 84, my dad beat stage 4 cancer after being given a 3% chance of survival. Why did other friends die of cancer at 54, or a heart attack at 37?
I’ve finally come to a place where I just have to let go and trust God. We live in a broken, sinful world. Bad things happen. Plus, our perspective is so limited, we aren’t able to see how God sees. Maybe once we see heaven, we’ll wish God hadn’t answered all those prayers for healing!
I don’t know yet what God intends for our friend in the coronary ICU. He has much to live for—a wife who loves him, four grown children and grandchildren (triplets!) on the way. A church where he teaches Sunday school. A global ministry that depends on his leadership.
What I do know is that God cares. He knows our needs. He is able to heal—and sometimes He does it here on earth. The decision is totally in His loving hands.
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MIRACLE vs COINCIDENCE
How do you — how does ANYONE — know the difference?
Leslie, THANK YOU for your COURAGEOUS discussion under the heading of “Looking for a Miracle”. Most, if not all, your readers know YOU HAVE BEEN THERE! You mention a church pastor to whom the concept of miracles is “hypothetical”. I could not have enjoyed my career as an engineer if I had believed the concepts of engineering design were less than practical — and, admittedly, there were MANY occasions when our best efforts were not quite good enough, by our standards!
I understand that Steve Jobs had to fight such disappointments at APPLE, just as we had to at GE! Yes, we knew that everything we designed was “hypothetical”
— just as every miracle we pray for is hypothetical —
until it actually HAPPENS! Growing up in Germany and England, I had experiences that totally convinced me that I had experienced miracles — and yet still wondered if the same would be true after moved to America! So, God used the entire journey, from the dock in Southampton to the post-arrival encounter with my brother Gary to prove to me that it was a seamless world we live in!
As you say, “He knows our needs. He is able to heal — and sometimes He does …”
Leslie, you’re O.K.!
I love you.
Your ‘other Dad’
Saturday morning our friend, Mike, went to heaven. Here is a link to the press release posted by GMI, the ministry he led. http://www.gmi.org/gmi-mourns
The longer I am a Christian I see fewer coincidences and far more miracles. I am not sure living in Canada or the US makes any type of difference.
I think it has a lot to do with our expectations–do we have eyes to see what God is doing? God certainly works miracles in the US and Canada, but we have a hard time believing. Thanks for your comment, Reed.