One of the platitudes I am tired of hearing these days from people is that "God could do the impossible." Yes, I know God could do the impossible. I have read my Bible, studied religion, philosophy, and, theology for decades, and, probably thought about these things a lot more than most people. To say "God can do anything" is just an insult to my intelligence. The question is, have you really thought about God's miracles? I am not trying to sound mean-spirited, callous, or, jaded. I just want people to stop and reflect on what they say before they say it.
You know, if you run the numbers, Jesus probably literally saw at least 100,000 people during his ministry, not to mention during his lifetime. And, yet, if we look at Scripture, how many instances do we have of Jesus, the son of God, healing people? A couple of dozen? Sure, there are events, healing, miracles, and, the like that were not recorded, so, it is a bit of a flawed statistic to cite. Of the 100,000 people Jesus saw in his life, let's say he healed 5,000. So, that's 5% of his face-to-face interaction. Let's complicate the situation, and, put Jesus in heaven and turn over this set of jobs to the Holy Spirit and the church. Now, we see less healings and less miracles.
To further complicate the situation, we, as people thousands of years and dozens of generations, handful of languages, and, cultures away form truly knowing what happened, have to rely on scripture and the Holy Spirit. Most people today lack the zeal, love and faith Jesus and the apostles had. Furthermore, our world today is essentially a sin-filled, unholy, anti-spiritual age. So, when people want to tell me, "God can do anything," I hear a statement which, on the surface, is true, but, if you reflect on the truth, it belies people who just don't get God anymore. Jesus himself said God would reject people who did miracles in Jesus' name but did not know God the Father. In your life, you, the person reading this blog, how many people do you personally know who truly and really would qualify as one likely to be a vessel through whom God performs such an action? Me, I have met maybe 5 in my life time.
There are lots of pretenders, posers, wannabs--heck I am a wannabe--and lots of never were's. With this in mind, I hear people tell me, "You never know, God could heal you right now." I stop, look back at my life, reflect on my sins, think of the lifeless faith I have, and, stare at the man in the mirror fully aware of a man who does not know anyone who really could serve God in this capacity. Top it off with the fact that I am the least worthy of such people, and, I see a recipe for disappointment, despair, and, lost faith. Yes, God will heal, but, it is on His terms and His conditions. I know, in honest reflection, I have not sought Him enough to even be worthy of asking.
Now, here's where the literate Bible person chimes in with the "grace" theme. And, that too is something I am well aware of. None of us deserve to be healed. Yeah, I got it. It's not by my works that I am saved. But, stop for a second, and, listen to that message, "it's not by my works that I am saved." Salvation is a free, unmerited gift from God. But, miracles, the Bible says nothing to that effect. In fact, faith is a key element of the miraculous. Either one performing the miracle, one receiving the miracle, or the body surrounding the one in need of healing have a measure of faith. Jesus himself made it clear, faith is needed. Miracles don't just happen the same way that salvation does. Can it? Sure. But, is that the design as shown to us in the Bible? Not really.
The miraculous, as it existed in the Old Testament, really spoke not to the supernatural. No. That word, and the concept that it goes with, didn't come around until the nineteenth century. The church has to get the idea that miracles are automatically supernatural out of its collective head. Back then, miracles represented a "great work of God". Sometimes it was a healing. Other times, it was a victory for the nation of Israel. And, yet, at other times, it was the fulfillment of a prophetic scripture. But, to be honest with ourselves, we have to get past this concept of miracles as supernatural intervention on God's part.
Now, back to my story. God could heal me. Yes, I get it. The question, then, becomes, how will my healing be a "great work of God"? If I get healed, but, God never receives praise, the loving kindness of God goes unrecognized and His name is slandered through our unwillingness to lift up his holy name. So, when people tell me God performs miracles all the time and He could heal me anytime, it does not bring me comfort or joy at the possibility, but, rather, it fills me with contempt and despair. Of all the hope I have had, the things I have done, the prayers prayed over me, and, the desperate pleas I have laid at His altar, to use all that flowery talk, and, I stand alone, diseased, faced with the near-certainty God will no save me and healing will never, for me, be anything more than a fantastic concept. How am I supposed to find solace in a salt-laden, burning wound?
I am not trying to slander God. I am, rather, trying to get people to not use His name in vain and speak foolishly of the great works he has performed. There have been over 14 billion people to have lived on the face of this planet? I am just another face. If you look at Scripture and really study to see how much God intervened for His people, you will find less reason to believe a miracle will be set aside for you, and, more opportunities to choose, if you so desire, to become despondent, bitter, faithless, and, lost. Do I want to live? Absolutely? Do I want to praise God for His saving me? There little I would like less.
In the face of reality, I have to be honest, as Jesus told us to live in truth, and, admit to myself, "God will probably not heal me." So, if you feel compelled to try and warm my soul with the reminder God can heal, please, do not. It merely serves to weaken my faith and give the bitter roots of anger against God an opportunity to dig further into my soul. Indeed, vain hopes are very much like the cancer rotting my bones. I seek nothing but truth, love and Christ. Ask God if He is going to heal me before you tell me He can, otherwise, you good intentions, when not prompted by the Holy Spirit, breed lies and I vehemently refuse to believe lies.
Is this to say, "Don't talk to me about God?" Absolutely not. I love talking about God. But, if you are going to talk to me about Him, have enough presence of mind to consult Him before you just say "the right thing". Sometimes "the right thing", that is, something that sounds pleasant, but, is untrue, hurts more than it helps. I would rather you sit with me in the depths of despair and be real about that than try to prop me up with things God neither ordained nor authored. If you are unsure of what God wants you to do, the best thing is to do, as they saying says, ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" If you don't know, go spend some time with Him and find out. It is in the presence of people who live in truth, ugly, painful, real truth, that I find joy. I am unable to idly pretend that meaningless niceties do anything but enrage me. Be honest and in me you shall find a friend.