Monday, September 7, 2015

Does God Perform Miracles Anymore?


The Gospel reading this Sunday was the story of Jesus curing a man who was deaf and who had a speech impediment. It is the famous passage where he touches the man's tongue and says, "Ephrathah!" Which means, "Be opened!" If you've ever attended a Baptism or an Easter Vigil liturgy, then you may recognize this story as the origin of the ephrathah prayer during baptism. During the rite of Baptism, the priest says, 

"The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.
May he soon touch your ears to receive his word,
and your mouth to proclaim his faith,
to the praise and glory of God the Father."

That prayer has long been one of my favorite prayers of Baptism, a reminder of the ways that God touches us and chooses to work through our very physicality.



But this year, a different part of the story stuck out for me - the fact that the man being healed had a "speech impediment." My daughters have both needed some help from speech therapy, so the listing of this particular "ailment" hit close to home. Why haven't they been miraculous cured? This of course leads to the bigger question, a question asked by many in our modern times, "Why doesn't God perform miracles anymore?"

Of course, the short answer is - He does. Just read the story of James Fulton.

But there is a longer answer, an answer to the real question. Why doesn't God perform a miracle for me? In my circumstances?

The answer is found when we trust totally in God's providential care. 


The idea behind providence is simple enough to understand, but incredibly difficult to actually trust in. Namely, God's providence means He always has our best interests in mind. 

Our best interests are not necessarily what we think our best interests are. Our best interests encompass our spiritual well-being. God is often more patient and slow-moving than we'd like. God sees the big picture. We see only what's in front of us.

Sometimes, God still does answer our prayers for a miracle. Sometimes He still does provide healing instantaneously. But, more often than not, the process of healing is a slow one. More often, He works through others to bring that healing, and the strength we need to endure suffering.


But if we stop to see, we may be surprised to find miracles we wouldn't have otherwise noticed. We might not think of them as "miracles," but they are, indeed, ways in which God works in our lives.

And that's exactly why the "speech impediment" line from Sunday's Gospel really stood out for me. If my girls lived 2000 thousand years ago (or maybe even 100 years ago) they wouldn't have had access to something like speech therapy. They wouldn't have had the opportunity to make the kind of progress they've each made in such a short period of time. But the gift they've received is much more beautiful than that, because they've been blessed with teachers who truly care about them. Whether or not it was intentional, the kindness their teachers have shown them has been a manifestation of God's love in their lives. 

So while their progress isn't a "miracle" in the classic sense (i.e. something that can't be medically explained) it is, nonetheless, a manifestation of God's presence in our lives. 

Yesterday, I was part of an interesting discussion while having brunch at a friend's house. Two women of different faith backgrounds were talking about suffering, and one was asking the other, "Well, it seems like God has been very good to you [in bringing healing to your family member]. But what about when God isn't so favorable?" My friend responded with something along the lines of trusting in God, who is good, to know what is best for our souls. I couldn't agree more.

I'm thinking about all of this in light of desiring more children, yet being fully aware of the fact that future pregnancies will result in future suffering (thanks to the joys of hyperemesis gravidarum). I've begged for freedom from this suffering during both my pregnancies, but what I got instead was the grace to endure an otherwise impossible situation. I still hate HG with a burning passion, and hope I'm spared in future pregnancies. But I also trust that God will give me the grace to endure it, if I must. 

Again and again, I'm reminded of Paul's begging God to remove the "thorn in his side" in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. Paul says, "Three times I begged the Lord about this...but he said, 'My grace is sufficient for you. For power is made perfect in weakness.'" Miracles do still happen, but even when we aren't given the miracle we long for, there is such consolation in knowing that our suffering isn't in vain. There is such consolation in knowing that God can and does work through us, even when we are suffering and weak. 

I wish that I could say that that's a perfect solution, and that it makes suffering easy to endure. But it doesn't. I know that whenever I undergo my next bout of an HG pregnancy, I won't be angelically praying in bed, offering up each moment to God with a smile on my face. I'll be laying there, scared and overwhelmed and begging God to take the suffering away. I don't like suffering. But being given the grace to suffer makes an otherwise unbearable situation bearable. And it gives me hope - hope that one day we will all be freed from pain and suffering. 

It gives me hope that one day, God will open all our ears and lips and heal every ill. That is the hope of heaven, the hope of life to come. 

For now, we "mourn and weep in this valley of tears," but there is consolation in knowing that that state isn't forever. And there is consolation that, because of the cross, even our suffering can be offered in love and used for good. 


That being said, suffering in love has turned out to be worth it in my life. And thankfully, I need look no farther than these two little faces to be reminded of that. They give me the courage to continue being open to life, even in the face of suffering. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes and yes. Both with the HG and the therapy (except my kiddo is in physical instead of speech).

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