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How do you know whether a miracle is genuine or not? You don’t until God confirms it to you. But let’s say He does confirm to you that a miracle was real. Then what? Then you need Him to tell you what you should be learning from that miracle. You see, God performs miracles for a wide variety of reasons. It’s commonly assumed in the Church that miracles are evidence of God’s favor. Well, no, they’re not. In the Bible we find plenty of examples of God pouring earthly blessings down on the heads of people who He was quite disgusted with. We find that rulers of demon worshiping nations were rolling in wealth and gobbling up territories around them with miraculous ease. Yahweh Himself takes credit for favoring these evil men, but He also says He was using them merely as a means of disciplining other rebellious peoples. It’s hardly a compliment when God says, “I’m using you to spank someone who annoys Me—and by the way, I’m going to spank you next.” This is something Yahweh says to many rebellious rulers in the Bible, proving the point that miraculous provision and the sweet life on earth are hardly signs of Divine favor.
Now since God is in absolute control, He is the One ultimately responsible for all miraculous works in this world—including those which are fake and demonic. Plenty of scam artists are making a lucrative living by putting on some very convincing miraculous shows. The miracles are fake, but most people think they are real, and the impression is what sells. Where is God when this stuff happens? He’s causing people to be deceived. God often causes us to be deceived in life—especially when He can see that we aren’t sincerely interested in knowing the truth. God considers true wisdom a privilege and He isn’t going to bestow that privilege on defiant little rebels. But don’t think for one minute that you have to be some anointed fathead to rank with God. You can be some bumbling nobody and end up with far more spiritual understanding than Prophet Pompous. All of these holy sounding titles we give ourselves fail to impress God—He judges us by our soul’s response to Him. If you are sincerely seeking God, He will reward you with a better understanding of who He is. Getting to know God better is the great reward in life—not wrangling blessings from His hands.
The reality is that God uses both real and false miracles to harm and to help. He allows demons to pull off miracles as well—and usually in their case He considers such miracles to be instruments of Divine discipline. You really don’t want to get a promotion because you prayed for some spirit guide to help you last night. It’s a very bad sign when God starts allowing demons to help you. The sardine who gets fished out of a bucket and tossed into a large pool of water thinks he’s getting an upgrade in life until he realizes that he’s swimming in the shark tank. In the same way, many Christians go into rebellious brat mode when they feel like God is keeping them confined in hardships. When He refuses to give them what they want, they start looking for ways to force His hand, either by aligning with those who promote irreverent manipulation tactics or by going directly to sources which they know are demonic. God often responds to such souls by delivering some unexpected blessings—blessings which only speed them down the road of spiritual stagnation. When we start getting aggressive in our defiance, God steps up His discipline program and His discipline comes in some surprising forms. But like the hunk of cheese that entices the mouse into a trap that will break his neck, God dangles many blessings in front of us which we can only get our hands on through willful defiance. Such blessings come with a nasty surprise attached to them.
PUTTING MIRACLES IN PERSPECTIVE
To get miracles in perspective, we need to recognize that God is at work in all of our lives all of the time. Most of what He’s doing in the life of your neighbor has nothing to do with you. As a general rule, God isn’t going to explain to you why He’s doing what He’s doing in someone else’s life because He considers it to be none of your business. This means that when Sister Mary gets up and gives her tearful testimonial about how God did some grand miracle in her life, there’s a very good chance God isn’t going to tell you whether her miracle was legit or not. Why do you really need to know what’s going on with Mary anyway? If she’s deluded, that’s her business. If she really experienced some great moment with God, fine, but how does that change your life?
Christians spend far too much time stressing and obsessing over what God’s doing in other people’s lives instead of focusing on their own relationships with Him. It really has no bearing on your life if God is resurrecting some mother’s kid on the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter if He miraculously cured your neighbor’s cancer or if He caused some poor man to get rich overnight. Instead of trying to keep tabs on everyone else, you need to pull the focus inward and think about what’s happening in your own walk with God. Maybe you’re an alcoholic and you wish He’d heal you, but He won’t. You’ve told Him how much you want to be healed, and you’re being honest about your struggle. It’s important that you’re honest and open with God—don’t sit around trying to pretend you’re not bothered when you are. But after it’s been said, going over it a million times is pointless. If God wants to heal you, He will. If He doesn’t, He has good reasons for delaying. What does God want to teach you through this trial? What are the opportunities for growth in all of this? You know they exist or God wouldn’t leave you here. God doesn’t make us miserable just to do it—He brings trials into our lives to draw us closer to Him. So what can you learn?
It’s far more productive to focus on growth than to focus on making your problems go away. Sure, we’d all like miracle cures and quick fixes. But if God says that’s not the best plan for you right now, are you going to trust His love and wisdom or are you going to sit around stewing with jealousy because He’s not treating you the way He’s treating someone else? Of course He’s not treating you the same as that other person because you’re you. We aren’t just blocks on an assembly line to God—we’re unique individuals and He deals with us all one-on-one. Does it mean He loves you less if He’s not raining the miracles down in your life? Of course not. As we’ve already discussed miracles are not evidence of Divine favor. They’re just one of countless ways God can work in our lives.
Is a nail better than a screw? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Too often we Christians view miracles as the ideal method in any situation, but the truth is that they are not. If God miraculously fixed every trial that came into your life seconds after it began you would be seriously ripped off. Some of the most valuable lessons we learn come through our struggles. When miracles are too numerous or when they come at the wrong time, it’s guaranteed to result in spiritual regression and a corruption of character. It’s because miracles have such powerful effects on us in both good and bad ways that they are such useful tools for both blessing and disciplining. God knows whether a miracle is really good for you right now or not. If it’s not, you should be thankful that He loves you enough to withhold it. It doesn’t mean you’re not mature or obedient enough. If you throw dirt into cake batter, it doesn’t mean the batter was flawed when the cake comes out badly. The dirt was the problem—dirt in any batter is going to cause problems. In the same way, an ill-timed miracle is guaranteed to mess you up no matter how great you’re doing with God today. When you’re right on track with God, listening and growing, why on earth would He intentionally sabotage you with the wrong kind of miracle? He wouldn’t. We humans fail to appreciate the fact that “no” is one of the most loving words God uses with us.
So then, if you’re smart, you won’t pester God for miracles. Putting in a polite request is fine, but when He doesn’t deliver, you need to practice submission, not nagging. As for the miracles others claim to be experiencing in their lives, why should you waste your time trying to analyze their legitimacy? Leave other souls in God’s hands. Miracles alone can never be accepted as evidence that God approves of someone. The world is full of liars, but is it your job to identify them all? Not hardly. You need to focus on your own walk. What God is doing with you today is what matters. God is always teaching us, so what kinds of things is He teaching you? You want to be focused on God Himself, not on signs and wonders. It’s God Himself who is our Prize—not the goodies He can give us. We want to pursue the highest rewards in life: communion with our Makers and a better understanding of who They are. We want to be focused on improving our treatment of Them and always looking for new ways that we can bless Their hearts. We want to delight ourselves in Them and be a delight to Them—these are the goals that make our lives rich and meaningful. When you know that you and your Makers have a good thing going on, the miracles become irrelevant.
Practicing Submission in the Way that We Pray