How do you define a miracle? What makes someone see an event as a miracle, while others can chalk the event up to coincidence? Who do miracles need to be limited to things that have no rational explanation?
Albert Einstein once wrote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle.” From someone who made legendary contributions to science and rational thought, this is an amazing testament to his spirituality.
A Psalmist wrote: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” That was written at a time when we didn’t know much about the science of the universe; how the planets moved; how stars were formed. It was considered to be a miracle that human life could even exist under such a vast creation. But we knew that somehow God was glorified in the beauty of the universe.
Five thousand years later, we know so much more about the nature of the universe. We can measure the distance between stars and planets, we know about black holes, quasars, far away galaxies, and still we have not yet mapped the fullness of an ever expanding universe. And because of this increasing ability to measure and observe, have we lost a sense for the miraculous? Has wonder become captive to our rationality?
Sometimes Scripture actually fuels this movement away from the recognition of miracles around us. Perhaps when we read stories of the miraculous, our expectations are elevated and we measure the miraculous by biblical standards. Food needs to multiply, the dead need to be brought back to life, or some vision of God has to happen to inspire us to turn away from destructive acts. Anything short of this can’t be a miracle, can it?
But Scripture also provides a binding theme to these stories of miracles, and we can come to define a miracle as anything that happens which glorifies God. This might be reflected in our wonder for creation, our rejoicing at the birth of a newborn baby or the acts of angels on the city streets feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, advocating for the voiceless poor, or offering a smile when you don’t really want to. These are all ways in which God is glorified and fit my (as well as Albert Einstein’s) definition of miracle.
Where do you encounter daily miracles in your life?
Devotions for Week of June 5, 2016
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.