Ada R. Habershon, author of the popular Gospel song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
It is far easier for the God of the universe to perform what we call a miracle, than for the signalman from his box to shunt great engines and their trains. Rationalists who deny miracles are like men who, knowing nothing of the working of a railway system, affirm that trains must always run on fixed lines—that they run of themselves—and can never be diverted from their ordinary track. Such ignorance, were it possible, would simply mean that they knew nothing about the signal-box.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason people think you can have the Gospel of Jesus without miracles. They reason that what the first Christians thought they saw were either hallucinations, or they were not smart enough so they just mistook natural occurrences as supernatural. But this thinking is about 100 to 150 years behind and has been thoroughly refuted philosophically too many times to count. So I’m not going into it here.
Instead, let’s consider a few questions about miracles:
1) How should we view reports of miracles today?
C. S. Lewis had it right when he said he believed in the possibility of miracles, but he doubted most reports of them. What’s interesting is that in spite of all popular efforts in trying to “educate” people and discourage them from believing in miracles, the overwhelming majority still think they occur by the power of God.
2) How do we define true miracles and recognize when they are from God?
The New Testament tells us that if they’re really from God they point to, and glorify, Jesus Christ, and tell us something about his character and mission. If they don’t, then pass them by. Just because something is supernatural it doesn’t mean it’s from God.
3) What kind of miracles should we expect in our time?
We can expect to see healings, rescues, nature miracles, amazing coincidences (God-incidences), and most of what the early church reported. I’ve personally witnessed all of those recorded in the New Testament except raisings from the dead (the really dead), and I’m highly suspicious of all current reports of them.
4) How much faith is necessary to see one?
As much or as little as God expects at any given moment or in any given situation. There’s no formula here (no matter what any TV evangelist says); sometimes faith precedes the miracle and sometimes it follows it.
Whether they occur for us or not, they’re entirely in the hands of God, we can’t rub the lantern and say, Genie God, today my wish I’d like granted is…
If we could generalize about miracles, we could say that they happen more:
- around prayer than prayerlessness
- among the community where they’re expected than where not
- within the will and purposes of God than outside them
- in the midst of extreme need or danger than sitting on our reclining chair
In other words, they tend to cluster around people who are trying to be obedient to God and surrendered to his will, and wanting his will.
So if we truly want to see miracles take place, we need to go where they are, namely, where the need for them exists and they occur when Jesus Christ is being glorified. The good news is that they are real, they really happen today, and our call to action is to give ourselves over to God’s plan and program laid out for us in the New Testament.
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.