Magazine article The Christian Century

Why Miracles Are Rare

Magazine article The Christian Century

Why Miracles Are Rare

Article excerpt

DEAR ELLEN: I spent some time thinking about your conversation with Jean. Her view that Christians should expect God to perform miracles in their lives isn't really all that uncommon, I suspect. At least not for a certain brand of Christian. And, as you realized, if that's not your brand, you may be uncertain how to respond. It might seem as if a believer ought to agree.

But you need to think about what it would actually mean to expect God regularly to perform miracles in our lives. What kind of world does someone who expects that have in mind? A world in which, whenever I slip in the snow, God grabs me? A world in which, whenever germs invade my body, God intervenes directly to ward off disease? A world in which I may grow old but never die? A world in which, when I hurt someone's feelings, God makes them feel better? A world in which the stove suddenly goes off when a young child reaches for the burner? A world in which people who have wasted their money for years get a windfall because they earnestly prayed for a way to send their children to college? A world in which, when I pray for a hurricane not to strike where I live, it turns aside and strikes where you live? A world in which, when I'm worn out and need some sleep, God sees to it that the sun doesn't rise for a few extra hours? And what if you were praying for a beautiful sunrise to enjoy early that morning?

You get my point. I don't know what kind of world this would be. I can't even imagine it. For it would be a world without any order or regularity. We could depend on nothing, since we'd never know when God would be cutting the cards again. I don't disbelieve in miracles, but, almost by definition, they have to be rare. Otherwise life becomes impossible.

What sounds pious and devout--that we should expect God to work a miracle in our life at any time--doesn't really take God seriously. …

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