What do we define as a miracle?

Seriously, what do we define as a miracle?  I’d love to hear what you have to say about this.

Miracles, in many people’s minds, are those things that happen in the Bible, those showy moments of outrageously impossible events that happen to fix someone’s life and can never again be replicated.  Miracles are the stuff of olden time; in the 21st century, we don’t have miracles.  We have robots.

But is that true?  Does a miracle have to be a pillar of guiding fire or the instantaneous healing of someone who’s never been well?  Does it have to be big, showy, utterly inexplicable, and catalogued for all to remember in the years of faith without “proof”?

I don’t think so.  I think miracles can be the small things.  I think miracles can be the fact that, again this week, I am utterly broke.  I mean, way broke, in the negative numbers broke, having to take out more loans broke.  And out of gas.  My little gas symbol light came on Wednesday afternoon–and I wasn’t getting any more money until today, Friday.

I prayed for a miracle, I’ll admit it.  I asked God to replicate the oil of the woman Elijah aided in 1 Kings 17, that it would not run dry while it was needed.  I asked for the miracle of making it on nothing–and it was granted me.  I drove everywhere I needed to yesterday and the car didn’t die.

Did I drive differently so as to conserve what little gas I had?  Yes.  Is there leeway when the light comes on because manufacturers understand that this sort of thing happens?  Yes.  Did the gas in my tank actually miraculously replenish as I drove all over town?  Probably not.  But does that matter?

In the age of skepticism and the need for “proof”, I feel that miracles happen all the time and we dismiss them, belittle them, marginalize them.  So what if there’s a perfectly rational explanation for my car continuing to run?  Does that exclude a God Who works within the parameters of the universe He built to aid a poor graduate student desperately seeking aid?  Why should a miracle not be also a product of physics?

Will my car get me to class today?  Will the check come on time for me to cash it before having to go to work?  I don’t know.  I don’t know these things.  What I do know is that God asks me to trust Him, asks me to ask Him, to give Him my problems and believe that He will have an answer for me.  Faith is not blind, but neither should it hedge its bets–it is about giving God the space to work in your life in whatever small (or large) ways He chooses.

What miracles have you experienced lately?


 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.  (Gal. 3:5, NLT)

2 thoughts on “What do we define as a miracle?

  1. Ron Johnson says:

    Hi, J. Although I have a vivid experience of God much of the time, I don’t use the word “miracle.” It seems to me that David Hume accurately captured the meaning most people have in mind when they use that word (a suspension of the laws of nature) and that has not been my experience. For years I’ve prayed about the little details of my own life and the lives of those around me, and things routinely happen that seem to be in direct response to my prayers. No suspension of natural law occurs, but my prayers are answered in ways that surprise, educate, and challenge me.

    I am sorry to hear that you are living from paycheck to paycheck right now. I hope that situation improves. I know from experience that desperation can have a dampening influence on our spiritual lives, causing us to focus on just trying to get through the day. But I do encourage you to keep seeking God’s presence and guidance for the bigger picture. “This, too, shall pass,” as they say, but hopefully you can make contact with the One who is simultaneously in this moment and beyond it, who dwells in eternity but reaches out to us in time. This time is important in your life, as you’ve indicated in your previous posts. May God guide not only your car but you through these challenging days.


    • Hmm. I do sort of agree with the “suspension” definition, but I think we need to find some way to talk about the stuff you’re mentioning, the stuff that is explainable but doesn’t need to be. I was actually talking with some friends of mine last night about ghosts and paranormal stuff and whether or not we believe that’s all “true” in any sense, and the point was brought up that sure, we can explain a lot of that if we try really hard. Music boxes that play by themselves? The gears were stuck before. Floors that creak one minute and not the next? Shifting of weight. But do we need to apply a scientific answer to it? The same with some of the ways that God acts in our lives; sure, we can define it, but sometimes it’s better to just accept that the definition doesn’t have to be separate from the Mover behind the action.

      Thank you for your concern–I also hope the situation improves, but I am constantly going back to the Source to get through it. Although I don’t believe this is in any real way a “test” from God, I do believe that, as you say, it’s quite an opportunity to realize what I need and from Whom I need it in my life. My thanks for your support, friend.


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