What a stellar way to title a post. I’m pretty sure no one is going to read a post entitled, “The Problem with Miracles.” I might as well have said, “Why Ice Cream is Too Cold.” (That’s a total snag from Friends by the way, *sigh* Ross…) Anyway, I don’t think there really is a problem with miracles but I do want to say something about our desire for them.
I can think of the very first one I prayed for as a believer…. My great-uncle died so I prayed that God would bring him back. It didn’t happen. Regardless, anytime something really bad happens or I want something that I think is impossible, I pray for a miracle. I never really thought of it before but I’ve also been praying for miracles that have to do with my character. I don’t think we realize it, but asking God to change something about our hearts is asking for a miracle.
Sharing time. I really really REALLY don’t like it when I get angry about another driver’s stupid *ahem* less-than-stellar driving tactics. I get so mad. I seriously want to honk my horn like mad and cut them off and yell things that my toddler has no business hearing. Usually, I just end-up gritting my teeth and hoping they notice when I pass them because I get to use the carpool lane. That’s what we call passive-aggressive. I don’t know why I let it bother me so much. Who cares?? They’re doing what they’re doing, I’m doing what I’m doing, no big. But I CAN’T. LET. IT. GO. It crawls under my skin and itches until I do something to get some sort of revenge.
The thing is, if I’m really honest: those drivers scare me. Their reckless behavior reminds me that I’m not in control. I can drive as safe as I want but if another driver crashes into me well, there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. That’s why I get so mad. I’m scared.
So, in cases like that, when I’m praying for God to help me not get so mad, I’m basically praying for Him to remove my fear which would seriously be a miracle.
Yeah, I’m kind of a fearful person. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty drama of why I am the way that I am but let’s just say this didn’t happen overnight. It’s a seed that has been planted into a very fertile soil of this world’s crap and then nurtured lovingly by Satan and his minions. Seriously, this isn’t something I can just will away. I want control over my life. I want to control my safety and the safety of those I love. It’s hard to relinquish that control to God because I don’t always get what He’s doing. But I know that He knows best and I hate feeling anxious and I hate the behaviors that seep out of my heart as a result so I pray that He will change my heart.
Now this is the part where I talk about the problem with miracles.
God could absolutely take that part right out of my heart like it was nothing. He could have brought my uncle back from the dead. There are so many things that He could do but He chooses not to. I could get into a whole thing about free will and God’s intervention and all that, but I won’t…. mostly because I’m no expert on that. What I can say, from my own experience is that if God performed a miracle by changing my character then I would be robbed of so much more.
What I am realizing time and time again is that God wants us to become more like Him through the process of relationship with Him. How easy would it be if He were to simply make us all Christ-like the minute we became believers? It would be easy but it wold lack the gift of grace. Something that astounds me about our Heavenly Father is that he is RELENTLESS. He pursues and pursues even when I fall short. It’s mind-boggling. If you have ever experienced a relationship in which your inner ugliness was exposed and you were loved in SPITE of that, you know what I’m talking about. This is what God does. He doesn’t change us immediately. He pursues us in grace and insists that we return to Him again and again. This is love.
Have you seen the ugly parts of your heart? They’re really ugly. At least mine are. God hasn’t removed them but we are working on it. He loves me in my ugliness. He loves me in the ugliness that I DON’T EVEN REALIZE I HAVE YET. This is why He doesn’t miraculously transform me. I need to see those parts. I need to willingly give them to Him. He respects that I should have the choice to surrender those parts. That is love.
So here’s the problem with our desire for miracles: if God doesn’t fix it then we have to work through it and that’s hard. We generally steer away from hard. Hard is exhausting and frustrating. It’s also scary to see the ugly parts of ourselves. Most of us would rather notice the ugly parts in others and pretend like we don’t have ugly parts like that. To admit our faults is to be rooted in humility and rested in grace, both of which are not easy to achieve.
So what do we do with all of this? Do we not ask God to perform miracles in our hearts? I don’t think so. I think we should always be real with God about the desire of our hearts. The trick will be to ask God, “Father, is there something in my heart that I need to be aware of?” Sit with God in that question. Don’t be afraid. He is so loving and gracious. He will help you remove it. He may lead you to a therapist or other relationship that will be used for refining purposes. Through that relationship you may discover where this all began. The light will shine in the darkness and God will use this insight to bring healing.
You may find yourself praying that God perform a miracle in someone else’s heart. I don’t know what to say about that other than this is very tricky business. Often, the darkness we see in another is the darkness that we have in ourselves and cannot forgive. That person who is always late? Do they drive you crazy? I’m curious, how do you feel when you are late? Do you have a hard time accepting that you are human and can be late sometimes? Maybe it’s time to sit with God about that.
Do we stop praying for others? No. But… it’s very important that we became aware of our own issues before fixating on the issues that others struggle with. Usually, it takes someone outside of us to show us our own issues. We often don’t even realize that we struggle with something until it manifests through friction in a relationship. In theses cases we will be tempted to notice the fault in the other person. We must always ask, “Father, is there something in my heart that I am not aware of?”
If you are interested into delving into this process, also known as “sanctification,” or becoming more like Christ, I highly recommend you find a trusted Spiritual Director or therapist. Here are some books that may help you on your journey: