The Frequency of Miracles: Why is there so much variation?

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How do you define what a miracle is?  What ingredients are necessary before you’ll use that label?  Does the event have to be rare?  Does it have to be illogical?  Does it have to seem physically impossible?  Do you only think of miracles as positive, helpful events?  Or can a miracle also be destructive, and devastating?

Your cultural context and personal theology greatly influence how you answer these questions.  Some people are quick to refer to an event as miraculous. Others refuse to ever use such a term.  The point is that there isn’t one right definition of a miracle which everyone in the world agrees with.  Instead, definitions vary quite a bit.  Naturally a flexible, broad definition allows for many events to qualify as miracles, whereas a narrow, rigid definition results in the term being used far less often.  Continue reading

Why God Performs Miracles Through Spiritual Rebels (Help for Disillusioned Christians)

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Father Marcus is a seriously devoted priest who cares deeply about the Lord and about the souls in his flock. One of his parishioners, Maria, is newly diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She’s suffering terribly, treatments aren’t working, and after she spends an hour weeping in Marcus’ office, he is very grieved for her and feels strongly led to give her hope that God will heal her. So he does. He tells her not to give up on the idea of receiving a miracle. Then he prays for her right then and there, lays his hands on her, and really believes that God is going to grant the healing right then. Why else would He be impressing on Marcus so strongly that Maria is going to be healed?

But when Marcus prays, nothing happens. Maria goes home. A week passes. She’s much worse and Marcus is feeling bad that perhaps he led her astray by urging her to hope for a miracle. While he’s wrestling with doubt, a well-known healer named Hank comes to town. Marcus knows that Hank is a pompous glory hog who doesn’t care in the least about honoring God. He’s even heard Hank laughing about how easy people are to dupe. Hank has gotten rich after years of conning people into giving him large sums of money in exchange for Divine healing. While Hank is in town, a desperate Maria goes over to him for healing. She drops hundreds of dollars into the offering plate, Hank picks her out of the crowd, lays his hands on her, says his usual dramatic prayer, and Maria is instantly healed. She’s ecstatic and she tells everyone how the great healer did what Father Marcus couldn’t. When Marcus finds out, he feels confused and hurt. Why would God choose to exalt a jerk like Hank and leave Marcus looking passed over? Continue reading

Putting Miracles in Perspective

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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. Continue reading