God of Miracles
I prayed for a miracle. I didn't get it.
Or let's see. Maybe I didn't get it yet. Maybe the answer is "No". Maybe the miracle I prayed for was "outside of God's will." Maybe the non-miracle answer I got was better for me than the miracle I asked for.
The explanations available in Christendom of the absence of miracles we prayed for are mind numbing. Some are really stupid. The fact is, I asked God to raise the dead and he left the dead in the grave. Not a dead person. A dead marriage. A destroyed family. I prayed that the dry bones of my home would grow sinew and skin and get back up and walk. They didn't.
And yes, He could still do it. He can do anything. But I have no idea if that is what will happen. I have no idea if God wants me to keep praying and believing or just let it go already.
It's a strange place to be. Right in the middle between, "pressing on toward the prize, forgetting the past" and believing in the God who stood in front of the tomb of Lazarus and said COME OUT. Actually strange is not even close to the right word. It's like trying to decide whether to beat the train, or jump off the cliff. It feels like jello that won't gel. I can't get things to turn solid. Even though it's plenty cold enough in here.
What I want is a miracle. I don't want new things, new futures, new beginnings. I want the dead to get up and walk. My God could have done that. But He didn't.
I have friends who lost a daughter to cancer at the age of six. They prayed for her healing. She's waiting for them in eternity. I have a friend with PTSD (among other struggles) from childhood trauma. She would like to have one day free of flashbacks and debilitating nightmares. She prays for it, as do I. Each day brings the same pain. The miracle healing hasn't come. My aunt prayed and prayed for my cousin to be released from prison before she passed away from lymphoma. He walked through the door a few days too late.
Lest you feel the need to shoot me an email, I know all the answers. I know all the good that can come from pain. I know that my character is stronger. I know that my uncle is comforted by his son's presence and freedom in the midst of his wife's absence after half a century of marriage. I know the joy that my friends have in watching their other children grow, including one through the miracle of adoption. I know that my friend is experiencing healing in a slow incremental process of unlearning and relearning and many good things are happening. But there's no miracle. No stunning, jaw-dropping, only-God-could-have-accomplished-this spectacle of mercy and glory. And it feels bad. It feels very bad. Cruel. And unusual.
We always seem to go back to Job when we can't figure this stuff out. We read pages and pages and pages and...
Friends of Job pontificate for days on all the explanations. All the reasons why he was suffering. The thing is, the only reason we know anything at all about why they were wrong, is 1) God says it in the end of the story and 2) we were privy to the conversation between God and the devil before the whole thing started. Also we don't know exactly who Job was. "He was a righteous man" could mean a lot of things in a spectrum between almost sinless like Jesus, to he hadn't ascribed to the child-sacrificing idol worship of the day. We aren't even sure what "day" it was exactly. We do know that God chose not to destroy Job's friends for their ridiculous lies and speculations about Him. He did that because Job prayed on their behalf. We also know that God gave blessings to Job "more than the first".
I know that I can look forward to the same. But... I didn't get to be privy to any conversations in the heavenlies prior to my divorce. I'm pretty sure my friends and family didn't either. And I don't think any biblical statement can be made about my righteousness to the point that the devil will want to prove something by breaking me.
I relate more to the story of Lazarus. I am still waiting for the dead to rise, and I will always consider that a possibility until I am in the grave myself. But the reason I relate is because of this:
Even though He knew that good things were about to happen, Jesus--in his humanity and empathy and love for his friends who were desperately sad--wept with them and for them. He knew they didn't know what he knew. How could they? He didn't expect that from them. He asked them, "Didn't I tell you?" but he knew they didn't get it. Of course they didn't. So He wept. WITH THEM.
I believe Jesus understands my sadness. I believe he knows what is coming next, whether it be a miracle the likes of which will blow us all away, or blessings more than the first. Either way, I do get a miracle of sorts.
The real miracle is I got out of bed today. I lifted weights and showered and made myself a nourishing breakfast. I took my daughter to get her prom dress altered and met my college girl at the doctor's office to help her out with a co-pay. I listened to some great music and breathed deeply of the petrichor before a tiny little rain shower and I SMILED. Listen. If you don't think these are miracles, then you have never signed your name on a document that says "Dissolution of Marriage." Trust me, its a miracle.
The real miracle is my beautiful friend sitting across from me--in the midst of extreme turmoil and sadness--giggling because she beat me AGAIN at cards. The real miracle is the praise of his glory on the lips of parents who celebrate their daughter's birthday with balloons that rise to heaven, telling her again that they can't wait to see her. The real miracle is my uncle getting up early on Sunday and preaching a sermon because he still believes that God is good. And he wants people to hear it. And also he is learning to cook his own breakfast. Miracles all around.
The way you know these things are miracles is they would never happen without the power of God's redeeming, healing, weep-with-us, grace-empowered LOVE. It's a stunning, jaw-dropping, only-God-could-have-accomplished-this spectacle of mercy and glory.