In an recent exchange of messages with a friend, she relayed that her daughter had recently said she never “hears” from God. This is a tough issue for anyone. I think at some point in their maturation in faith, everyone has to figure out what they think about relating to an unseen God. And that’s not easy.
A couple thoughts came to mind, neither of which was probably very helpful to her. I posted the first one yesterday. Here is the other:
I’ve been struck recently at the ways in which we restrict the parameters or criteria for divine work. Our concept of miracles, for instance, has a surprisingly naturalistic shape: a divine miracle, we think, would be something tangible. I’ll know it’s a miracle by what I see, what I hear, what I feel. A miracle would have an unmistakable tangibility to it, and that’s how I’ll know it’s from God.
But I’ve wondered lately, where do we get those criteria? How do we know miracles aren’t unseen & intangible? How can we be sure that communication from God, his intervention in our lives isn’t found most often in the invisible things? It’s an assumption on our part that when God acts, it will be like this.
Here’s a counter-example: we all have times in our lives that are so awful, or so evil, that we cannot possibly envision anything good coming from them. They’re only destructive; there is nothing good about them. But then some time goes by, maybe many years, and one day we realize that event has actually been used in some constructive way, to build us up. Not that it negates or vacates the evil or the pain we felt (or still feel), but we discover that what we once wrote off as only evil, only destructive, has actually benefited us in some way. Or as Joseph put it in Genesis 50.20, what you meant for evil, God meant for good.
In that realization, something supernatural has occurred. That which no human being could ever do has been done. That which we once would’ve never dreamed of happening has happened. That is the language of miracles, but we don’t count it as such because we’re working with a limited definition of miracles. We’re waiting for something tangible, so we miss the intangible.
But I think everyone has a story like this, when one of the worst things that ever happened to us somehow became one of the best things that ever happened to us. How did that happen? We don’t know; it’s impossible. But nothing is impossible for the God Who Redeems. We just fail to notice his redemption unless it fits into our categories… which it rarely does.
Like I said, that might not have even addressed the issue my friend was raising, but there it is. Do you have any stories like those I mentioned? I’d like to hear them if you do.