In the Western world, miracles seem to be an anomaly but what if they shouldn’t be?
Miraculous signs and wonders can make some believers uneasy, particularly after they’ve observed televangelists like Benny Hinn whose “healing” services are more akin to an episode of TLC’s Long Island Medium than anything else.
Skepticism is easy after even one scam artist is caught making money off of people desperate for hope and healing.
However, how should we view miracles Biblically?
Do they still happen in modern times? Are there psychological or medical explanations for these mysterious signs? When and how does God dispense miraculous wonders?
Seeing the Finger of God
Darren Wilson had similar questions when he sent out to make the documentary Finger of God.
Despite having grown up in the church, he was shocked when his aunt and uncle had gold teeth appear in their mouths during a prayer service. He took a camera and began interviewing people who claimed to have seen miracles and then going to services where people were receiving healing.
Even watching this documentary, some may struggle with that nagging question, “What if these people are faking it, pretending to be healed or receiving gold dust on their cloths or manna in their Bibles or whatever?”
One woman in a wheelchair was given a gold tooth. Why weren’t her legs and back healed? Why divine dental work instead?
Whole psychological studies have been dedicated to the power of the human mind to affect the body, so some people claim that prayer-healings are purely a psychosomatic event.
However, this can’t really explain incidents like with the wheelchair-bound woman.
Miracles in These Days?
C. S. Lewis wrote in his book on miracles, “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.”
If we believe that God became human, then we must also acknowledge that the spiritual is fully capable of asserting itself in the physical world whenever and however God wishes.
In the gospels, Jesus does miracles almost everywhere he goes. Blind people are healed. The deaf hear; the dead are raised to life; the demon possessed and tormented are set free; people walk on water. The list goes on and on, but maybe it was all a Jesus-lifetime special, singular to his ministry on earth.
However, in John 14, Jesus certainly didn’t sound like he was planning on closing up the miracle shop once he went back to heaven.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13 ESV).
The apostles went on to live this out, performing many of the same miracles in Jesus’ name for the early church. Maybe that was unique to the New Testament times, something God did to help all these new Christians get the church off the ground.
Finding a Common Thread
In his book The Reason for God, Tim Keller helpfully phrased the prevailing Western mentality towards miracles in this way: “We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.”
If miracles are a renewal of God’s world as he intended it to be, then there’s no reason he would stop them after the apostles died.
If Biblical promises of spiritual gifts of healing and signs along with that logic weren’t enough, there are the records of David Wilkerson and many other leaders in the faith, noting instances of God’s miraculous work in the church.
In Triumph Through Tragedy, David recounts dozens of instances where believers have been healed of physical illnesses, blessed with restored relationships, had needs inexplicably provided for and more. “The common thread through all their testimonies is the faithful presence and grace of God in their lives, even as they faced their human frailties and questioned Him.”
Here, it seems, is the key to miracles.
Jesus taught his followers to ask God for his will to be done on earth (Matthew 6:10), to constantly invite the Father’s presence into our lives and incline our spirits toward the Holy Spirit’s direction.
Living With Both Upper Rooms
Pentecost is probably the most familiar movement of the Holy Spirit in the Bible for most Christians, and it’s probably the most referenced when people are asking for the Spirit the move.
However, many may have not considered what Gary Wilkerson calls a crucial earlier moment that happened between God and his followers the day before the crucifixion.
“Jesus knew this was his last night with his friends, the disciples, before his death. He opened up his heart to them in an intimate way. For him, it was a night to do spiritual business: he spoke straight to their hearts with hard words of challenge and correction.”
“In the first Upper Room,” Gary explains, “Jesus deals with us the way he did with his disciples: doing business with our hearts, calling us to be honest with him and aligning our hearts with his.”
This quiet faith alignment where God digs deep into our fears and incorrection notions about him is what allows for the incredible outpourings of the Spirit later.
Struggling with wrapping our mind around God’s power in the world and divine will behind pain and suffering is a life-long task for most Christians. It’s not a battle we face alone, though. All we need to do is ask God for more faith like his disciples did in Luke 17:5-6 and the man with the demon-possessed son in Mark 9:20-24.
After all, our Father is the Lord of many kinds of miracles.