It's Okay to Expect a Miracle
If miracles are meant to get people's attention for the kingdom, we can continue their attention-getting purposes by getting verification. But it's much easier said than done.
What did you experience in terms of trying to verify miracles?
Most people don't collect documentation, and don't know how to get medical documentation.
Documenting that you have a certain problem is one thing. Documenting that you no longer have it is another. Even if you do that, how can you prove that the change was due to prayer?
I have a pastoral concern as well: How far do you press people? I felt very awkward when I was interviewing people and would press them with hard questions. Sometimes they felt that I was questioning their integrity or even their experience.
Some people have said that since we know that everything must have a natural explanation, we know there will be a natural explanation someday; there, we have solved the problem, it's not a miracle. At Lourdes, there are many cases with plenty of evidence, but not enough to meet very strict standards.
You mentioned that verifications discourage fraud. How concerned should we be with fraud?
Some people exaggerate. I didn't catch people in that, but other people have. Sometimes there is just no way of knowing, which is one reason I tried to depend on people I know.
Not everything that people claim to be a miracle is one. Certainly before we broadcast people's testimonies, we should try to discern reality. My guess is that people are likely to make fraudulent claims to get attention.
I want to make sure everybody knows that miracles occur and that I believe in them. I'm not claiming that they need to happen every time we pray. My wife and I have been through eight miscarriages. People die. The apostles are all dead. There is not an expectation of people always being healed.
How do the healing and miracle testimonies from the majority world influence the Western church?
We have an explosion of miracles taking place, especially in conjunction with the spread of the gospel. Some things are outside the norm for most Westerners, whatever kind of church we are associated with. It's probably good for us, to shake us up. Extraordinary things are taking place around the world.
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Previous CT stories about miracles includes:
God's Quiet Signature | Why the rescue of the Chilean miners was a "great miracle," and what it tells us about Hanukkah. (December 13, 2010)
Miracle Boat | The surreal, sometimes comical story behind the discovery of the Jesus Boat. (April 22, 2010)
Needed: More 'Miracles' | My grandchild barely survived birth. Worldwide, too many newborns do not. (December 3, 2008)
Miracles | Quotations to stir the heart and mind. (February 4, 2008)