The Gospel record shines a light on a large number of miracles performed by Jesus. The wedding banquet at Cana when water was turned into wine. The blind man given sight by the spit of Jesus. The healing of a woman from internal bleeding. These are just three of the many miracles found in the Gospels.
Here is the dictionary definition of a miracle: a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Or here is another one: a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
Now when miracles work in our favour, we are elated and can claim, as many do, “God performed a miracle for me today.” However, there is a downside to this matter of miracles. For example, when an airplane plunges into the ocean and all 439 people on board perish, we often hear of the one person who was scheduled to take the flight, but missed the plane at the last moment. That person can often be heard loudly proclaiming, “It’s a miracle! God spared me today!”
Now while I might be deliriously happy for that person (he/she survived!), such a scenario hardly warrants the use of the word “miracle.” It was happenstance, in my view, that the passenger simply missed the bus taking him to the airport and thus avoided the plane crash. The other problem with a proclamation that God performed a miracle that day is the other 439 people. What are they? Chopped liver and not worthy of a miracle from God? I think it critically important that we be mindful of the fact that those 439 people were equally deserving of a miracle as the young man who missed the plane. But for them that miracle didn’t come.
If we use miracle language to describe this situation, the families of those who died are left with the sense that somehow, their families were of less value than that of the young man who survived.
We especially love medical miracles. Someone who is diagnosed with cancer, against all odds, manages to survive and regain their health. In fact, health care professionals often talk about the “spontaneous miracle,” the one in a million spontaneous miracle that allows for complete healing and remission of the cancer. Again, I am joyful for the spontaneous miracle that took place for that individual and for their family. But what about the rest of us? The 32 year old mother who dies of breast cancer. The 5 year old child who dies of brain cancer. The 89 year old who must undergo treatment for cancer of the throat even though he never smoked a day in his life. Were not each of these people worthy of a miracle?
Perhaps it is wiser to offer a prayer, thanking God for the good that comes into our lives and asking for strength to survive and endure when the bad things come. The miracle of this life is that we love and care for one another in every crisis that comes to us.