2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Miracles. Signs and wonders. Undeniable demonstrations of supernatural power. These are rare today. What is even more strange is that when they happen we seem to be a coma. It's like being at a large sports event and the winning goal or point is scored in dramatic fashion and not a sound or reaction comes from the crowd. I can't explain it but I can give you some examples.
Eleven years ago I developed some unusual health symptoms. I ignored them for a bit but eventually couldn't. After extensive poking and prodding and tests it was discovered I had a growth in my bladder. The urologist who was to do surgery said it was cancer. In recovery he came to see me and told me it was worse than he had expected and the tumor was quite large. He said he would phone me in one week to explain what was next for treatment. Prior to even knowing it was cancer I had a sense it was serious. I asked to be prayed for and anointed. I did not want prayer for healing because I was/am convinced I have no idea what is best. I just wanted to put my life in His hands. Shortly after that anointing but before the surgery I was reading and came across a story I had never read before. A servant of the Lord was travelling with two others in a small boat across ocean water from the mainland to an island to visit someone. A sudden and unexpected storm blew in and they thought they were going to die. In the midst of the storm the Lord told her "sooner would every drop of water in the ocean dry up than you perish, for your work has just begun."
The instant I read those words I had the overwhelming sense from God "these words apply to you also." A peace came over me I can't explain. My wife couldn't understand how I could be so calm.
A week went by after the surgery and no phone call came. Another day passed. No call. Finally after two weeks my wife couldn't wait any longer and we called the surgeon's office ourselves. His secretary assured us he would call that day and he did. He confesses he was confused and dumbfounded. The pathology report came back negative. He went down and ran the tests on the tumor himself. Still negative. He said he has taken cancer from people countless times. He knows what it is and it made no sense. It was not possible. He did not know what to do with me. We agreed that he would check me every three months to see if the tumor returned. At the first checkup he had an intern with him besides a nurse assisting. When he looked inside my bladder he let out this sound of amazement. I asked what was wrong. He said there was nothing wrong. The healing was so complete he said he couldn't tell any surgery had ever occurred or that there was ever a problem. I told him "that is why it's called a miracle". He looked at me with an intensity in his eyes I have rarely seen and he said in front of the nurse and the intern "It is a miracle."
But do you know what's strange? I have seen a man with a tumor so large that it was forcing his eyeball from it's socket yet when he was taken in for surgery they discovered the tumor was gone. I have seen a man heading for blindness recover his sight back to better than it was before the deterioration began with no medical intervention. Dramatic miracles still happen yet even when they do we seem to be in a stupor. It doesn't really seem to register.
Eleven years have passed and though I have never forgotten I have never celebrated the miracle either. I rarely speak of it. Research says bladder cancer patients survive an average of 3 to 5 years after initial diagnosis. I have never had a treatment post surgery and other than a cold or flu have never been sick since.
Perhaps we are numb to miracles because often they don't happen. My mom had cancer too and she died. Yesterday a colleague in ministry, Gayle Tucker, too died of cancer so quickly that I can barely catch my breath. I could hardly sleep last night thinking of what her husband and family are going through. Wondering why there was no miracle for her. Wondering why I'm still alive. Wondering...
The church in the time of Acts was filled with miracles. Today they are much less frequent. In the time of the prophet Samuel the Bible says any evidence of God's supernatural activity among them was rare.
What does this all mean? Usually God seems distant when we are distant from Him but that isn't always the case. Paul prayed for healing and God’s answer was no. There was no miracle to rescue Jesus from our murderous hands. At the end of the day it comes down to trust. Trust that God knows and when the Story ends we will see and understand that all His decisions were perfect no matter how confusing or painful they were at the time.
Like my grandma's favourite hymn says: "Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."