I went to a youth meeting Friday night, and we talked for awhile about miracles (and hearing/obeying God’s voice and witnessing; we tend to go off on bunny trails 😁). As I reflected on all that, I wondered: What is a miracle? How is it defined?
So off to the dictionary and Google I went. 🙂
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines miracle as 1) “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature, held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God” and 2) “one that excites admiring awe.”
Oxford Languages (which provides the Google dictionary) says pretty much the same thing as the first definition, then adds that it’s “a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences” and “an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.” It also explains that the word miracle is derived from the Latin miraculum meaning “object of wonder.”
Dictionary.com includes that it “surpasses all known human or natural powers.”
Merriam-Webster calls it an event that manifests “divine intervention in human affairs.”
Wayne Grudem, an evangelical theologian, seminary professor, and author, says a miracle is “a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.”
We use the word נֵס (nes) today to mean miracle, but its meaning in Biblical Hebrew is a symbol of victory held high for all to see (also a banner or flag).“on the Hebrew word for ‘miracle’,” Ulpan La-Inyan
A miracle is not explainable by nature’s laws, and isn’t expected to happen. It brings wonder and awe. It’s not something humans can do. It shows God’s intervention, and is a way for Him to bear witness to and bring glory to Himself. It’s a sign of victory for others to see.
That means a miracle can be so. many. different. things.
As stories were shared that night, several times people said something like “I don’t know if this could be called a miracle…” I may have to tell them they’re wrong (nicely, of course). 🙂 Those things weren’t expected, can’t be explained satisfactorily (by human terms); they brought wonder and awe, and caused us to turn and thank God; they weren’t things we could have done on our own; they are signs of victory for us and others. . . They were miracles.
We focused on physical miracles, I guess you’d call them–things we could see happening, things outside of us and in our world. And there are thousands of those, and they’re amazing!
But there’s also spiritual miracles, which are most likely more important and awesome. There’s miracles happening inside of us–the miracles of being saved, being forgiven, growing more like Christ, knowing the Spirit lives in us, etc.
As I did research, I skimmed a Wikipedia article on miracles. The following paragraph challenged me:
According to a 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center, more than 90 percent of evangelical Christians believe miracles still take place. While Christians see God as sometimes intervening in human activities, Muslims see Allah as a direct cause of all events. “God’s overwhelming closeness makes it easy for Muslims to admit the miraculous in the world.”
I’m not condoning Islam, but I think we as Christians should follow the Muslims’ example in certain areas/ways. A lot of them memorize at least a good portion of the Quran (basically their Bible). They’re very dedicated to their religion/beliefs. And, as the above quote says, they easily admit or recognize miracles because they believe in God’s close interaction in human affairs. What if we were like that?
I’ll share two miracles with you in closing.
1) A miracle that always comes to mind when I think about miracles or answered prayers is when God healed a cat for me years ago. It was crippled and Dad wanted to put it down, but I begged God to heal it–and He did. That was a miracle that showed me God does hear prayers–even those of a young girl–and He cares about even the “small, silly” things.
2) When I was going through some struggles and asked God if He really cared about me, He sent a friend–just minutes later–to ask me if I was okay and needed to talk.
What are some miracles you’ve experienced (or seen/heard)?