A few years ago, I wrote an article about humility in prayer. I had been angry with God for taking my miscarried baby to be with Him. He hadn’t answered my prayer with a miracle to revive him. But part of the humility aspect is to accept the miracles that do come, even when life is a mess. It is imperative that we see these miracles for what they are, and to give thanks for them. The miracle in my miscarriage is that instead of a large clump of bloody goo, which my midwife told me would happen, my water broke. I got to hold my eight week old baby in my hand before laying him to rest. When we pray for a miracle, God isn’t stingy with giving them out, but he does move differently than perhaps what we thought.
This is true throughout all of history. In the Old Testament, God miraculously answered the Israelites prayer for freedom from Egyptian slavery. He raised up Moses to confront Pharaoh. Moses went to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh did the opposite of letting the people go at first, he made their work load harder. Moses cried out to God asking why, and God comforted Moses by letting him know he had a plan. His plan was to teach the Egyptians, and probably the doubting Israelites, that He was indeed the true and only God.
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply the signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:3-5.
As we know, God then sent the ten plagues on Egypt to show Pharaoh His power. But some of those disasters also touched the Israelites. God only starts mentioning distinctions between the plagues that happen to only the Egyptians at the fourth plague, the swarms of flies. This means the Israelites, along with the Egyptians, had to deal with the bloody Nile, a tsunami of frogs, and a tempest of gnats. God still miraculously freed the Israelites, but not painlessly or pleasantly.
Another messy miracle is found in the book of Acts. Paul is a prisoner traveling by sea to make his case before Caesar. Their voyage hadn’t been easy, yet they continued to sail against what Paul warned. A terrible storm comes and they become lost at sea. They throw the ship’s goods overboard to help keep the ship afloat. Everyone thought they were going to die. But Paul received a message from God and spoke it to them in Acts 27:22 & 26. “Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… But we must run aground on some island.” Could God have saved all the cargo and the ship? Definitely, but He had a twofold plan. First, because of the precise vision God gave Paul, the soldiers and sailors witnessed a demonstration of both God’s omnipotence and omniscience. Second, the people of Malta were able to hear the gospel and be saved.
One could argue that those could have happened through more pleasant means. That is true. But it undermines the character of God. Because Adam and Eve chose to disobey God by eating the fruit, there is a curse on this earth. Things are not all that they should be. One day, God will institute a new earth free from the curse. But throughout the Bible, God punishes evil and blesses righteousness. It also says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). To focus solely on the pleasant aspects of God to create and calm is to believe in a false god.
The late artist Rich Mullens wrote a powerful song called, “Our God is an awesome God”. There are renditions now which only sing the chorus. When we mindlessly sing the mantra “Our God is awesome”, we are free to create in our mind any version of God we would like. But Rich focused the minds of his listeners in the verses with lines like:
“Judgement and wrath He poured out on the Sodom
Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that you have not
Too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God.”
At any moment, God could destroy us for our sin and rebellion, but He chose instead to give us His son and offer us hope. He chose to see us in our sinful disgusting state and love us anyway. That is how loved you are. This is the same thing He did with the Romans on Paul’s ship.
God promises us that He’ll always be with us. He promises us that He is for us and not against us, and that when we’re standing in Him, the forces of Hell will not overcome us. God answers prayers and grants miracles.
My grandma was diagnosed last May with pancreatic cancer and given 3-6 months to live. I prayed earnestly that she would be healed. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart warning me to prepare because this would be the end. She did pass, but we were able to spend 11 more months with her. We got to have one last Christmas, one last chance to celebrate birthdays, weeks of visits, and one last Easter celebration. Those were all miracles amongst our mess of cancer. And I’m so thankful for all of them.
Whatever mess of life that surrounds you now, know that God is with you and is granting you miracles to get you through when you pray. Look for them, and you’ll find them. And let those miracles become a part of your testimony of the goodness of our awesome God.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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