According to dictionary.com, a miracle is an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. Another definition counts it as an event or effect considered to be a work of God.
Plenty of miracles are recorded in the Old Testament. Frogs and locusts. Daniel in the lions den. Shadrach and the miraculous spelling of names. Jonah’s intestinal confession from the belly of a whale. All are examples of God doing something that defies our common understanding of natural law. But what we know as limitations aren’t even miniscule challenges for God. In His great power, He simply does as He wills, according to His purpose. What we call a miracle is just business as usual for God.
Fast forward now to the New Testament, specifically Acts 3. A beggar whose legs don’t work ends up getting something better than the coins he had begged for. God heals him through one of the disciples, who then has the honor of turning around and preaching a message of repentance. A supernatural miracle is manifest in a guy who couldn’t walk. Now he’s doing jumping jacks for everyone. The people are amazed.
Peter asks the people why they’re so surprised (?) and immediately calls people to faith in Christ. A physical miracle leads to repentance and new life in Jesus, which is the greatest spiritual miracle of them all. We can never take new life for granted.
Can we pray for a miracle? Indeed, we can and should. Rudolf Bultmann said “A modern man who turns on an electric light can’t possibly believe in a miracle.” Our western answers have the double effect of both solving a problem and dismissing the unreasonable. But God can do it. The question is this: can we? Do we have this level of faith?
Asbury Seminary Professor Greg Keener talks about his conversion from Atheism to Christianity coming about because of the miraculous: “As a young man I had a very dramatic conversion. I had been demanding evidence in the form of an argument. God gave me the evidence of his presence. His presence was in the room. He wouldn’t let me go.”
This is a miracle. Though they are few and far between in many places, they still seem to become more manifest in majority world countries. We have so much to learn, which will require us to step out of our comfort zones. Do I believe in the miraculous? Indeed I do. God can heal. God can restore. God can “show up”. God does this for His glory, as He sees fit. The miracle benefits Him first and most. That we have space to repent is simply by His grace.
What’s to be done with miracles today? We hope and pray for them, anticipating God to move. In these days under the New Covenant, we know that it’s all about “faith in His name”, as seen in Acts 3:16. As God performs the miraculous, He gets our attention. Like Peter, we immediately need to make the connection to the risen Lord and invite people to follow and believe.