There are probably very few people, who at one time or another when faced with an impossible situation, have not either prayed for a miracle or would have loved to have a miracle of some kind take place. Who wouldn’t want that to happen? Now, miracles do happen, but is there any way of knowing if they will? In other words, are there certain conditions that make it more likely for a miracle to happen?
WHAT IS A MIRACLE?
The word ‘miracle’ comes from the Latin word ‘to wonder.’ Miracles cause us to wonder at what happens. One definition is as follows, ‘an event produced by the special intervention of God, transcending the normal order of things, usually termed the laws of nature.’ Notice here, that miracles are called a special event. It is not expected that miracles would happen at every moment of every day. If they did, they would not be a special intervention of God. Rather, they would simply be a normal part of everyday life. Miracles are special. Jesus and Peter walked on water, but the rest of the time, they took a boat.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A MIRACLE?
Accepting the fact that they are consistent with God’s word, a miracle usually emphasizes three things:
- They are distinctive and wonderful – They cause us to say ‘wow,’ and they also cause us to have a sense of awe about God. Who He is and what He is doing.
- They are often mighty and powerful – You can’t help but stand back and recognize that it was God at work doing the miracle.
- They are meaningful and significant – In other words, they are not just like a Fourth of July fireworks display that is quickly over. They are there to reveal to us more of who God is and His purpose for our life and ministry.
God is sovereign, and He can work miracles anytime He wants to, so we can’t put Him in a box. But in the Bible, there does appear to be certain conditions that make a miracle more likely to happen. Let us note two of these particular conditions:
While miracles can happen under any circumstances, they generally occurred in the Bible when there were no other natural means available where there was a need for something special. When people needed a miracle.
Take, for example, the provision of food. Miracles with the provision of food happened in Bible days, but, generally, they were at times when no natural means of producing food was available to God’s people. From the time Adam sinned and lost access to the Garden of Eden, man has provided food by tilling the ground (Genesis 3:23). But in times of impossible circumstances, God provided food miraculously.
Take, for example, the children of Israel in the wilderness. When God miraculously provided manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4). They didn’t work for it. They simply went out and gathered it. It was a miracle. But notice in Joshua 5:12 it states that at the time of the conquest of Canaan, “The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land . . . . they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” The miracle happened only in an impossible situation.
Take another example with the feeding of the 5000, the only miracle mentioned in all four gospels. They were out in the countryside, and the people had no food. Jesus took a little boy’s lunch and, after giving thanks, He gave it to his disciples to distribute to the multitude. Miraculously, it was multiplied, with enough left over to fill 12 baskets. But Jesus didn’t miraculously provide food in that way every day. In John 4:8, in the story of the woman at the well, it states that the disciples went away to the city to buy bread. The miracle of the feeding of the 5000 also came in an impossible situation.
So one major condition for a miracle in the Bible was that they usually happened in impossible situations.
While miracles and not limited to faith, they are most likely to happen within the context of faith. God does work miracles when there is no faith. For example, God healed Elizabeth of her barrenness and sent her a child, even though her husband Zachariah initially did not have faith and was rebuked by the angel Gabriel for not having believed his words (Luke 15:5-25).
Nonetheless, miracles are most likely to happen when faith is present. On one occasion, Paul was speaking in Lystra, where there was a cripple who had never walked. Acts 14:9 records this man heard Paul speaking. Paul observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said a loud voice, “stand up straight on your feet,” and he leaped and walked.
There’s no question that faith is an activating dimension for miracles. And since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17), particularly a Rhema word from God, it behooves us to strengthen our faith by getting into, meditating on, and living by the Word of God empowered in us by the Holy Spirit.
We acknowledge that God is a God of miracles, that miracles generally happen when there are no natural means available, that we are to respond in faith, and that God is able to do above and beyond what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Nonetheless, we need discernment to see when it is time for a miracle.
Our family has seen miracles where God has provided food when we didn’t have any. Once a young couple delivered to us a station wagon full of food on the very day when we had no food left in the house. But generally, food has been provided for us in normal ways.
Our family has experienced miracles of healing in many different ways. Bearing in mind, miracles of healing can happen in all sorts of ways, God has also used natural means to bring about healing. Last year, I injured my rotator cuff in my right shoulder, and although I prayed and received prayer from others, it did not get healed miraculously. However, through the course of physical therapy and exercises, it was healed.
We need to be led of the Lord and not just ask God for a miracle, as He may have already put it put in our hands the answer to our need. I remember on one occasion when my wife Dorothy and I were talking with a fine young man who, after getting himself into large debt, was looking for God for a miracle to get him out of debt quickly. My wife suddenly had to word for him. It was simply, “Get a job,” as at the time he wasn’t working. He did get a job and was very successful. He was able to pay off his debts and is now wonderfully serving the Lord as a leader in a local church.
A FINAL WORD
We need more miracles, not less. Let’s be looking for God to work miracles in our midst. We do not want to limit God in any way. So let us be expectant for God to be at work in our midst. Let us believe for the miraculous to happen, especially miracles, when we are faced with ‘impossible’ situations.
Do you need a miracle right now? Are you faced with an impossible situation? Then start believing God for the impossible. Remember that according to Ephesians 3:20, “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work in us.”
Think of those words ‘above all that we ask or think.’ God is a God of miracles, so expect a miracle!