The supernatural always fascinates people. Even the Jews pestered the Lord during His time on earth: “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You” (Matthew 12:38). It was a request that Jesus did not regard with favor. He sharply rebuked them, saying that the sign of the prophet Jonah would be enough for them. On the other hand, we read of countless miracles that Jesus performed among the Jews. He often strengthened the faith of His disciples by signs, and yet He lovingly rebuked them not to depend on them when he explained to Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
So what about miracles and signs? Were they reserved for Jesus and the apostles, or can we still experience them today? We will meet people in our lives who vehemently claim one or the other. Some even go so far as to teach that miracles are irreplaceable proof of being a child of God. This view is biblically untenable. Early on, in the books of Moses, we read of Egyptian magicians who also had some form of power, but this was certainly not a sign of godliness. It becomes critical when people proclaim that God must help – after all, they had asked Him for it in faith. I once heard someone praying in this way and felt a strange trepidation. Did this person think he could dictate things to the Almighty? The woman he had prayed for to be healed did not get well but died. Isn’t children’s faith in Christ greatly damaged by such actions? How are they to grow in faith if they are promised a miracle with great conviction and then it does not happen? How are they supposed to learn to discern the will of God in a matter and then pray accordingly when people promise them miracles indiscriminately because, in their opinion, God must help?
Knowing God’s will and purposes is an important prerequisite for experiencing God’s miraculous intervention. This is not always easy, because God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. Undoubtedly, everyone who has served God for a long time will be able to tell of experiences that cannot be explained in an earthly way: last-second rescues, changes in the mindset of someone who was initially against them, or healing from illness – the list could go on and on. Not for nothing is it said: He who puts everything in the hand of God will also see the hand of God in everything. However, God cannot grant us every wish, even if our faith is very great. We read very briefly about the prophet Elisha, who himself performed many miracles: “Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die” (2 Kings 13:14). Can we accuse him of lacking faith? Certainly not. But God has arranged it in such a way that our lifetime is limited, and often an illness precedes death. In addition, human understanding is also very limited. It is often difficult for us to see things in the light of eternity. We read about the son of Jeroboam that he died even though he was the only one of his family in whom something good was found. Therefore, he was given an honorable burial, and all Israel mourned him (1 Kings 14). This prospect probably seems uninviting to us, but let us look at the matter from another point of view: If he had stayed longer on this earth, would not the good in him have been quickly overgrown by sin? How long would he have been able to stand among his godless relatives? A few years less on this earth thus determined an entire eternity.
But should all this discourage us? Certainly not. In this matter, Jesus’ words to Martha have always been a blessing to me: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) She truly saw great things! God is willing to work many things in our lives, but let us be careful not to prescribe God’s effectiveness. When we are in an oppressive situation, our imagination develops plans after a short time for how God could help in this matter. This is human nature. Naaman, too, had clear ideas about how he should be helped and was disgruntled when his expectations did not materialize. Only when he yielded to his wise counselors was God able to heal him. Are you also waiting for a sign from God and it isn’t coming? This can be due to various reasons, so examine yourself diligently and, above all, with sincerity. Do you believe God’s Word? Faith is something that grows, but sometimes it is as if the decision to believe even this time has to be persistently made anew. Often after great victories, we go through terrifying lows, as if our faith has been “used up,” and we feel the misery of Elijah, who prayed in the wilderness after God’s miraculous judgment on Mount Carmel, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah was now fleeing from Jezebel and was at the end of his strength of faith. Nevertheless, God gave him a time of rest, strengthened him, and sent him off again into His service. He did not allow him to give up or to allow his faith to become weak – something God wants to work in your life as well. Are you keeping His Word? Consider that it would be presumptuous to remind God to keep His promises if you will not keep His commandments.
And finally, do you have patience? Abraham, whose children we have become in faith, waited a long time. Very long. Probably so long that most of his descendants would have given up hope long ago. In my youth, I once had to ask for one thing for seven years – and that already seemed very tiring. Today, I know that an answer to prayer can take considerably more time. But which miracle would we be deprived of if we gave up before that? Praise be to God who wants to give us the strength to persevere in faith. God wants to help – through circumstances, through the guidance of His Spirit, through our brothers and sisters in faith, but also through His direct intervention: through signs from heaven – if you only believe.