On Miracles

Question:   Can a modern, educated person rationally believe in miracles?

I believe a modern, educated person can rationally believe in miracles if they have faith miracles can happen. If a person, any person, does not have faith, miracles can happen, then they would not be able to know if it was a miracle. Belief in miracles depends on the person’s worldview: do we live in a world where God can intervene, and we have personal religious experiences?

There seem to be different understandings of what a miracle is. Some people describe a miracle as an unexpected event or occurrence. Most often, a miracle is defined through the lens of religion, primarily because of the result of divine activity. Two types of miracles are violation and coincidence miracles. Violation miracles are those we tend to think of the most—God stopping a natural disaster, terminal disease cured, a person saved from a horrific accident unharmed. These are the miracles that give the best stories. If religious experiences people have are challenging to examine or prove, then violation miracles could be challenging to prove as well. Coincidence miracles are those events that seem unlikely to occur, though they do not violate any laws of nature (i.e., a candidate gets a job they were not qualified for, etc.) In these miracles, the eyes of faith can see God working.

Throughout history, there have been unexplained events that make no sense unless they are described as miracles. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant one people still grapple with today. Had this not been a miracle and real event, the early disciples and followers would not have been so bold in their faith, their testimony, or even to be willing to die for the message Jesus Christ lives.

I think the most significant aspect of miracles that make them difficult to believe in is that they force people to look beyond themselves as the center of the universe. Meaning, we have to open ourselves up to the possibility there is a higher power (God) that created the world and is still working within this world and the lives of the people, whether they know he is nor not. Yes, this is a challenging thought and concept. But what if we took the wager of Pascal and began to seek to have faith in God just for the outcome of experiencing joy and seeing everything around them in a new way?

For me, I do believe in miracles. This past summer was one of the hardest of mine and my wife’s life. She was pregnant and had a very, very difficult pregnancy. It was so complicated that we were not sure if the baby was going to live outside the womb or not. We also were not sure my wife was going to make it either. We recently had our baby boy baptized. So every day, I believe I am looking at a miracle when I look at my baby boy and wife.

For an intelligent, modern person to believe in miracles, we have to go back to the questions at the beginning, do you think we live in a world where God can intervene, and we have personal religious experiences?

December 5: Prepare (Advent 2014 Devotional)

Luke 1:21-25 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home. Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.”

advent

When we hear from God, what is the first thing we should do? Just sit around and be lazy. NO! We should be the people who continue to do our job to the best of our ability.

Zechariah just had this incredible vision from God. He could have run out and immediately told everyone outside and rushed to go home and do everything he could to make sure it came to pass. But that kind of living and thinking doesn’t really rely on God and his timing. Zechariah completed his work in the Temple, because that’s what he was assigned to do and he would have been breaking a major rule by leaving when he should have been there.

When God speaks and gives a vision for something we should do, he may not give a time frame. God may reveal some more of his plan for our lives, but he may also be continuing to show us who he is molding us to be.

Today our task is to do our work to the best of our ability and listen for the voice of God to work in us to reshape and remold us. You and I are not as good as we think we are; but we are so much more than we could imagine. Trust God to work in you and through you.

Ever working creator, you are doing an incredible work in us so we can be the people you call us to be. Grant us strength, patience, wisdom to live out your calling to be lights on a hill so everyone can see your glory and know you. Continue to work within us to have the fruit of the spirit come to pass. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.