From the time I can remember, I have heard a miracle as an instant when God suspended or broke natural law to intervene in this world.
This definition has caused more than a few problems in this age of reason and science; so much so that there have been more than a few scientists and theologians who deem miracles impossible--mythology at best.
Yet, this understanding of a miracle is inherently flawed. It is based on an old, outdated understanding of science. We now know there is no such thing as a scientific law which is absolutely true at all times and in all places. Let that statement sink in.
THERE IS NO LAW OF NATURE ABSOLUTELY TRUE AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES.
Nature is not a closed reality. It is quite open, and there is the distinct possibility for God to act in the world in myriad and mysterious ways.
Unfortunately, this understanding of the natural world was not something I learned in college or in seminary. I had to meet a member in one of my congregations who knows and understands science very well who was also willing to teach me this.
So, there is no need for Christianity to offer apologies for belief in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Jesus walking on water, or a host of other miraculous things which happened in the biblical record.
God can act in this world.
I have living proof.
My wife and I struggled with infertility for years. We sought medical assistance. We reached the limit of what our insurance would cover, and our financial situation would not allow us to take further risk. We chose the adoption route.
A reproductive endocrinologist told us point black, "Your wife's hormone levels are so out of whack, it will take a miracle for her to get pregnant without help."
That's exactly what happened. No medical assistance. No herbal remedies. Not even trying. We thought we were done.
Somehow, my wife's body worked when it hadn't during the entire span of her life.
Somehow, we had timed it just perfectly to conceive.
Somehow, the stars aligned and the planets were in the correct position for the unthinkable to become possible.
No one can ever tell me such things don't happen or are impossible. No one. I know. I see. I have been blessed with a miraculous occurrence.
But I know this causes some discomfort.
I have several friends on Facebook who struggle with infertility. The couples my wife and I encountered in our time with the adoption agency also struggled.
Why did God see fit to bless us with a natural child and not these couples?
I don't know.
Was it because I had deeper faith? No. Absolutely not.
Was it because I am a more moral person? Definitely not.
Was it because I begged and pleaded with God? No. Those conversations had ended long ago.
Like I said, "I don't know." It is quite a mystery, and yes, I will admit, it doesn't seem fair.
And this is why some theologians do not accept the idea of the miraculous. It seems too random. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why God would operate in one place and not in another. Why didn't God intervene during the Holocaust? Or during the slavery period in the U.S.? Or during any other atrocity to end it? Why did God pick my family to have a natural child instead of another? Why would one child's cancer spontaneously remit while another family's prayers seemingly go unheeded?
These are troubling questions.
However, they hold a deep assumption--the idea God is supposed to treat everyone alike--or fairly.
Does God act in such a fashion?
Let's approach this question from a parenting standpoint. Is it fair that my wife and I take my son out at the end of every week to eat pizza if he behaves at school when we never did so for my two daughters? At first glance, one might say it is completely unfair. We should have treated our daughters in like fashion.
However, this judgment is rendered without the larger picture in mind. Our daughters did not present much of a discipline problem as they went through pre-school. They toed the line and did what they were supposed to do without too much need of reward/punishment from my wife and I. Things moved smoothly.
Until the boy. He was a different character. The same things that worked with his sisters did not work with him. After several failed attempts to improve his behavior at school, we finally struck upon taking him out for pizza at the end of the week if his behavior improved. Guess what happened?
As parents, we had to treat our children differently. They were not and are not all alike. Does that mean we love them any less? Not a chance. We love them all equally, but we must treat them differently to maintain discipline and order.
If God sees each and every one of us as unique individuals (I believe He does), then does it stand to reason He has to treat us each differently according to what might work best for us? Does He make such decisions to make everyone jealous, or does He have a bigger picture in mind?
Perhaps this is of little comfort for those struggling with the questions, but I believe it is an honest answer.
Believe me, I haven't received what I thought was best for me by a long shot. Yet, I trust there is One looking out for my best interest who will intervene when necessary.
I'm pretty sure He does and will do the same for you.