“My life and most people’s lives are a series of little miracles — strange coincidences which spring from uncontrollable impulses and give rise to incomprehensible dreams. We spend a lot of time pretending that we are normal, but underneath the surface each one of us knows that he or she is unique.” Colin Clark, My Week with Marilyn
“It’s a miracle!” I will often declare, when resolution to a vexing problem is reached, or an answer to an elusive question appears. This is often accompanied by a sheepish little laugh, as if to dismiss the serendipity of an unexpected, yet very positive outcome. Time and time again, miraculous circumstances have befallen my obscure and unimportant life in the form of many blessings: a premature baby’s recovery from brain surgery, a successful assist to strangers in a burning car, a last-minute payment that kept the wolf from the company’s door. I truly do believe in miracles – the big and overwhelmingly provident, and the more quiet everyday kind.
Not everyone is a believer in miracles. Some people are downright cynical and refuse to consider a miraculous outcome. They believe they’ll go down with the ship and nary a life ring will appear. Others are unrequited in their beliefs – they hope until the very end for a specific outcome that doesn’t arrive. Others fail to recognize the blessings that have shown up amongst very ordinary circumstances.
To the skeptics, believing in miracles can seem non-sensical and naive. Thomas Ash, writing in Atheist Ground asserts, “. . . perhaps the most powerful argument against believing in miracles is their apparent arbitrariness. There are hundreds of places where a miracle is surely deserved, yet it does not happen.” Ash appears to believe that his (or another mortal’s) assessment of a worthy situation should be sufficient evidence to catalyze a miracle. But the first universal distinction regarding the miraculous is that we don’t get to decide.
Graham Pockett believes that the reason miracles aren’t always the answer to prayer lies within the intentional aspects of faith: “. . . our faith grows by being exercised, and faith is not exercised when we receive everything we want (or think we need). What faith is required when God becomes a Santa Claus – giving presents to all? It takes no faith to simply receive presents (“miracles”) but it takes great faith to believe when you don’t get everything you want, when you trust God completely knowing He is doing the very best for you in all areas of your life. That is what strengthens faith. Ultimately, we are here on this Earth to exercise, and therefore strengthen, our faith.” This explanation would appear to replace the seemingly random nature of miracles with a faith equivalency, though. Do those whose faith is “better” stand a higher chance?
Or are those who recognize their life is already comprised of blessings closer to the possibility of a miracle?
Lately there’s been a popular meme that advises converting gratitude from an atitude into a habit. I believe this practice actually improves the likelihood that miracles will show up. Marelisa Fabrega, in How Gratitude Can Change Your Life, quotes UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, who wrote Thanks: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier: “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”
If we’re regularly aware of our blessings, then our faith has grown to a closer manifestation of the intentional practice and tenets of most religious teachings. Andrew Wommack, writing in How to Receive a Miracle, tells us, “Blessings are better than miracles. If you live your life from one miracle to the next, you will live from crisis to crisis. It’s better to be blessed with good health than to always need divine healing. God’s will is for us to walk in blessing. We all need a miracle at some time to simply jump-start our faith. If it weren’t for miracles, we wouldn’t grow to the point where we could walk in the blessings of God.”
Therefore, an imperative element to the miraculous is recognition. But how exactly do we recognize a miracle when it doesn’t match our idea of what it should be? Faith Baldwin, writing in Many Windows: Seasons of the Heart, describes a miracle thus: “Every time something hard becomes easier; every time you adjust to a situation which, last week, you didn’t know existed; every time a kindness falls as softly as the dew; or someone you love who was ill grows better; every time a blessing comes, not with trumpet and fanfare, but silently as night, you have witnessed a miracle.” These kind of everyday miracles would belie the grandiose expectations that many, like Thomas Ash, might expect.
Jon Bon Jovi has said, “Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.” Miracles are everywhere, in the little victories and reminders that we’re not without something or someone who resides within us all.