by Charlotte O
Have you ever uttered this phrase, even in jest? Do you expect miracles? Believe they exist but wonder if they'll ever happen to you? Or remain skeptical that they happen at all? Maybe you're like my grandma who believes there will be small miracles every time she prays for lost glasses, available parking spots or good weather. Apparently, even people like Angelina Jolie pray for good weather when they really need it!
Or have you ever found yourself desperately needing a miracle, but being almost afraid to hope for one in the halls of an ER, cancer ward or NICU? If you ask nurses and doctors, many would tell you that unexplainable things happen with a frequency beyond coincidence, but it may leave you with a question of why do some get miracles while others don't?
We think of Christmas as a time of miracles; maybe because it celebrates the miracle of a virgin birth, and the even greater miracle of God stepping onto the plane of humankind in order to relate to us
I tend to find myself on the rational, skeptical side of miracles, yet I can't deny that there are things that have happened in my life or in the lives of those around me that seem impossible without divine intervention. Me even being where I am now in Taiwan is the result of a series of small signs and miracles.
And yet, I find it hard to ask God for miracles when I really need them. I think part of me is afraid that if it doesn't happen then I'm stuck with no other choice but to blame God or doubt his power.
We think of Christmas as a time of miracles; maybe because it celebrates the miracle of a virgin birth, and the even greater miracle of God stepping onto the plane of humankind in order to relate to us, or as the oft-quoted John 1:14 so profoundly puts it, "God became flesh and made his dwelling among us..." From that framework, we can redefine miracles like this:
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (John 1:16 NLT)
Miracles by definition need to break the rules of what should happen, lest they be taken for granted.
Gracious blessing. Undeserved, unexpected, desperately needed. That sounds like a miracle to me. So, maybe we should think of miracles as a gift from God. But so often in the clamor of gift-giving come pressures and expectations. Everyone has been in the position of receiving a gift from someone you didn't happen to buy anything for. What do you do? The answer most often is a 'guilt-gift' (and it better be of equal or greater value). Or maybe you get a gift that, as soon as you open it, you start thinking about who you can re-gift it to... Or you resign yourself to getting gift cards for those hard-to-buy-for people, envying those who are somehow able to choose the perfect gift for everyone. Giving can even become a form of manipulation. There is such a complicated relationship between gift and giver and giving (which is even more felt in many Asian cultures, but that's an entire post on its own) that we can become like demanding spoiled children when it comes to receiving from God. I mean, he has unlimited resources, right?? Or cynical, not really expecting him to follow through, just like we never really got that one thing on our Christmas lists when we were 10... Or we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, knowing that we can't fully enjoy the gift because it's so very conditional. In fact, I'd suggest that our approach to receiving gifts from God is often based on our own experiences with giving and receiving from those closest to us.
So what does that mean for miracles? Miracles by definition need to break the rules of what should happen, lest they be taken for granted. And when we see them as a gracious blessing, it can temper both the seeming unfairness and the fear of not receiving, or only receiving based on performance (have you ever heard someone say a healing didn't occur because one didn't pray hard enough or have enough faith?).
I can't answer better than anyone else why God chooses to perform certain miracles, chooses to speak at times and remain silent in others, but I can redefine my own mindset when it comes to miracles, and like a child waking up in wonder on Christmas morning to see that Santa has come, I can rejoice when there is one more gift waiting for me. Undeserved. Unexpected. Desperately needed. Just like the baby who would become Savior. That's the Christmas miracle for me this year.
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