At the end of the days where we’re asking questions about whether or not God can do miracles, I think the truth is we’re not asking if God can do miracles but will He. …and not just somewhere at sometime, but for us at this time. Which ultimately sounds more like we’re asking whether God truly cares and what kind of God are we serving and how much does God care about the situations we find ourselves in? These questions are deeper and more personal than just wondering if God can and/or will do miracles still… today.
There are two stories that strike me. One is found in Mark chapter 1 starting at verse 40, and the second story is found in John chapter 11 (the whole chapter).
The first story is short be always hits me straight through the heart. An unnamed man with a severe skin disease approaches Jesus and says, “If you want, you can make me clean.” It wasn’t unusually for Jesus to meet people who wanted to be healed, but this man’s phrase always stabs my heart. What had he learned about God that let him know that the Messiah has power to heal, but also maybe he doesn’t want to be bothered with our infirmaries. Of course he could help… but does he really want to? Are we a bother to God?
The second story is about a family that Jesus is considered to be good friends with. Two sisters who live within their brother’s house. They depend on their brother. But the brother gets sick and the sickness causes his death. They’d sent a message to Jesus as soon as he was plagued with such an illness and let Jesus know the circumstances, but Jesus seemingly waits for the death and gives no other response. It’s devastating story. I read it and feel a huge lump in my throat, it’s hard to swallow, tears are on the edges of my eyes. Devastating. Jesus could heal him …but does he want to? How personal is God? Is there a cutoff point? Does God really care this time?
Who hasn’t a noticed a time where God seems distant or silent or both? It doesn’t matter if you already believe in God fully, if you have a questions about God, if you’re struggle to understand God, or if you don’t want to believe …there’s no good seating when we’re waiting on God to respond. Waiting gives us time, lots of time. We can hope, believe, preserve, but at the end of the day it’s waiting. The most out-of-control feeling of all: waiting. Being out of control makes us question what we’ve always considered to be reality.
What does God want? What does God care about? And where does that leave us?
In the first story with the unnamed man who wants to be healed from his severe skin disease, the disease that makes him untouchable, unapproachable, unworthy, unclean to this man Jesus touches him and says, “I want to” and heals him right there. Jesus shows incredible compassion and directly answers him, and even disregards his disease while he still has it, while he’s still waiting, and touches the untouchable man -healing him completely. It’s beautiful!
The second story is more complicated. Jesus does show up, but after the brother dies and is buried. The things Jesus says makes one wonder what he’s even thinking. Does he have compassion? Why is he speaking in riddles while they’re mourning the lost of their brother? Why did he wait? Jesus knew them so well, they fully believed in him, his words, and his ministry. They believed he could do miracles and that he would in their case, yet they received death… The death of their beloved brother. Yet there is miracle that’s done here too.
After four days of being dead Jesus ask the sisters faith to go beyond what they’ve already seen and heard and what they were sure that Jesus could do. They had to believe not in what Jesus could do or has done before, but what God’s intentions are and what the character of God intends at any given circumstance. Then… Before they could decide what to make out of all of this, Jesus miraculously raises their brother from the dead. It was beyond all they had known or thought to hope for. It was better than the best miracle they’d expected at this point.
Maybe some of us will find ourselves in a place where we don’t have the faith for a miracle afterall, but can we wait on God long enough with honest hearts that are willing to see what God will do? Can we believe in God’s character enough to wait, to be out-of-control and to still believe in this nonsensical situation that God’s character is strong enough to redeem this time?
Would that be a miracle?