Saturday, July 30, 2016

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Miracles are any unusual occurrence or coincidence that can be explained as resulting from Divine Providence. Jesus did many miracles but not all who were there believed. For example it says in Mark 6:52 that when the people in the ship saw him walking on water, they were amazed and wondered (not believing) because their hearts were hardened.

When a miracle occurs in your life, a skeptical reaction comes from a hard (or injured) heart. Skepticism is a reaction that contains doubt.

Miracles don’t result in faith or belief. Faith must precede a miracle.

To demonstrate that your faith must precede a miracle, let me describe two miracles and you gauge your reaction.

Miracle 1
During the American Revolution, the soldiers were struggling to survive one particularly harsh winter. Early that Spring on February 23, 1778, a miracle occurred. Shad, a type of Herring that lives in the Atlantic Ocean, came up Schuylkill River that runs through Valley Forge. They normally arrive in peak numbers in late April to early May. If you are skeptical that Shad coming to spawn is evidence of Divine Providence, you join with others who claim that George Washington, an experienced fisherman, knew Shad came up that river and that is why he picked it. It is considered a miracle because their early arrival saved the soldiers from certain death, and thus the American's fight for freedom.

Miracle 2
During the summer of 1848 in Salt Lake City, just as grains began to ripen, thousands of crickets came down from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and began eating the crops. The people looked with horror at these insects because the loss of crops meant starvation that winter. They tried to fight off the crickets with brooms, shovels, water and even fire. In desperation, they had a special fast to petition God for help with this problem. To confirm their faith, thousands of seagulls arrived on the scene.  The seagulls ate the crickets, but they did more than eat them. They ate crickets until they were full, then flew to the nearest stream, took a sip of water and spat out what they had eaten.  They did this for three weeks until all the crickets were gone. The fact that seagulls eat crickets is not surprising. The unusual behavior of the seagulls in this particular instance was deemed a miracle by those who asked God for help. If you are skeptical that this can be explained as evidence of Divine Providence, you are not alone.

Miracles that occurred in the past do not require faith because we know that they occurred and we have no need of faith. This is explained by Alma when he says

“Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (Alma 32:17-18)

When faith precedes a miracle, then the miracle confirms the faith and the faith becomes stronger and more resistant to doubt. Consider these two examples of faith that preceded a miracle. 

Miracle 3
A man was caught by surprise when a magnitude - 7.5 earthquake occurred near his home in Argentina. After assessing the damages, he quickly rode a bicycle to the house of his mother who lived nearby. She was ok, but her house was destroyed. She asked her son to save a few items that were in the rubble and while doing so, he discovered two glass bottles of fresh water that were undamaged. His mother had heard the prophet Spencer W Kimball counsel members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to store food and water in preparation for future emergencies. She believed and acted without knowing when the next emergency would occur.  When the earthquake occurred a few months later, her faith was confirmed. The miracle was in the coincidental safety of a glass item in the midst of total destruction. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 74)

Miracle 4
Second, A man came to an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and requested a blessing for his son. His son was born blind, deaf, and dumb with no coordination in his muscles such that he could not even crawl by the time he was five years old. The apostle, Matthew Cowley (1897-1953) blessed the child according to the will of the Lord. Within a few weeks he received a letter thanking him because the child was crawling after a ball and could both see and hear. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 80)

In both cases, the person(s) had faith first and then witnessed a miracle second.

The result is an increase of faith. God is willing to manifest himself to those who believe. A little bit of faith is often rewarded by small coincidences and sometimes miracles.

Moroni said, “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) A witness may be in any form from a feeling of comfort to a display of Divine Providence.

I know that God lives because of the many witnesses that I have received confirming my faith. These things may seem small and inconsequential to a skeptic, but to me, they provide a strong defense against the doubts that I occasionally have. I encourage you to nourish your faith.  Miracles will follow.

Images used by permission
updated 8/14/16

No comments: