Monday, April 18, 2005

Miracles are one of the most problematic experiences in my life.

I could find a world without tangible miracles acceptable. I have friends who believe that God is aware, but does not intervene in this world. In their view, bad things happen, the sparrow falls, but God is mindful, even if his activity is limited to mindfulness and love.

I could live in a world with reliable miracles. As a friend put it, “God as a black box” (a black box is a computer concept – you put in inputs, you get out the same outputs, you don’t need to know what is going on inside) – which really reduces God to a natural force and faith as a sort of engineering. But, as the Calvinists found, it does make the concept of God reliable.

Instead I live in a world where I have experienced real, tangible miracles and known first hand others who have had the same experiences. But I have no way to predict the mind of God, when he will act, when he will withhold his hand, and find myself reading in sympathy when those in the Bible testify that God is real, even if he doesn’t save them in their time of need – an expression of the faith that Job had rather than the faith of Elijah who called down fire from heaven.

We have in scripture stories of God withholding miracles, allowing the innocent to suffer that the guilty may be more fully condemned, with the consolation that God receives the innocent unto himself.

But it makes life harder, in some ways, to know that there are miracles and that God speaks, but that at times the miracle is that there is not one, and the way God speaks is through silence. It makes life so problematic.


Stephen said...

The fact that others have suffered do not make our challenges any less daunting

In fact, in some ways, they make our challenges harder, especially day to day.

It is living day-to-day life that is the real challenge and the real miracle.

Stephen said...

I need to post a little bit on the differences in the types of miracles, though I'm excited that in the blog ecosphere I'm only two links from rising to the level of flappy bird.

But seriously, a non-tangible miracle might be one like the time I was walking down the street on my way to an appointment and a beam of light struck me and I got the very strong impression to drop the appointment and go teach someone in a building to the left of me at the top of the stairs, first door on the center right.

I couldn't bring myself to break an appointment, but they cancelled on us and when I went back, sure enough, there was someone in that apartment who had been praying for us to come, so we went in and taught them.

Striking, but no change in physical reality.

A tangible miracle might be one like when "Brother Larry" (I'm making up the name, but it was a brother in the ward who had the gift of healing) gave a blessing to a man about to go in to have his leg cut off to treat a bed sore that was rotted all the way to the bone (according to the biopsy). The next morning when they wheeled him into surgery, no bed sore at all and they sent him home, telling him it was a mis-diagnosis.

Or when I was kicked square in the face hard enough to stop my forward motion and pick me up off my feet a little. Not even a bruise. That is a tangible miracle.

Both types are not merely "observer bias" (i.e. someone jumps blind off the curb and lands on a dollar -- that is just coincidence). Coincidence is with us always, and the more random, the more complex an explanation we can create.

fMhLisa said...

I too have wondered why, and failed to find any satisfactory answer.