I love the account of Jesus calming in the storm in Matthew 8. It’s a fantastic story for telling children’s groups. There’s so much you can do to include the kids in the story, getting them to blow li the wind, using a parachute game to get the wave effect, settling the children down peacefully before a prayer and snack. It also has brilliant apologetic uses as it points to the who is Lord of creation and as we saw on Sunday, the pastoral call to true faith is essential for fragile believers.
In this article, however I wanted to respond to a tangential question. The question is “Why don’t we seem to see miracles like that today? Why don’t we see storms stilled, waters parted, wine created, food distributed to the thousands?” I’m responding to this as someone who believes in the active work of the Holy Spirit through things like spiritual gifts and healings. I’ve prayed for people and been prayed for and seen God at work. Yet, I’ve not seen nor heard verifiable reports of anything like this. Why not?
I would suggest that it is to do with our understanding of the purpose of miracles. They are intended to act as signs to point us to the unique glory and saving power of Christ. On that basis, miracles by definition should be rare. Remember when Jesus and his disciples meet a man born blind and they get into a discussion about the cause of his blindness. Jesus insists that its sole purpose is that God might be glorified. That’s why miracles happen. They are not there for our convenience or entertainment. They are signs that God uses at his discretion for his glory.
The risk is that if I am always looking for a miracle then I have missed the point. You see, I believe in a good and sovereign God. He is the one who made this world and declared that it is good. Yes, the creation has been subject to the effects of the Fall. However, that does not mean that God has abandoned the planet, left it in a mess and has to be begged to come out and fix things when they break down.
Therefore, my default expectation should be that the situation I am in is in fact part of God’s purposes for me. My response should be to trust God not to leave me in tough times and to know that whatever comes my way, he intended it for good and will work it out that way for his glory and my benefit.
We don’t see miracles every day because the world is working as it is meant to. It is therefore not so much a miracle I need as grace to trust God’s normal providence. This does not mean that we shouldn’t expect to see the gifts of the Spirit used in the church to enable the whole church family to be built up and encouraged. It does mean we should not be simply looking for the esoteric.