even when it seems there is no miracle
July 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
I was surprised to find myself fighting back tears of anger as the priest recounted the stories of 2 people in bleak situations. One is of a mother who prayed throughout her pregnancy for a healthy baby but ended up cradling a dead baby in her arms. God’s will? She clenches her fist whenever that term is brought up. Another is of a priest at the side of a dying man, summoning all the prayers he knew to no avail. He had been fighting against doubt for a long time, and now he was desperate for just one miracle. He shouts out. But God is silent, as usual. Their stories brought me to the days I called to Him for direction but remained lost, my most fervent prayers which remained unanswered. My situation is not the worse, but undoubtedly the endless suffering of the people in war zones forces one to ask– where is God in all these?
It seems there is too much suffering, too much silence for there to be a God.
Whenever more faithful friends relate their experiences of how God answers prayer, the wonders they have seen, I have to admit that I’m at times, not too impressed. Sometimes I wonder how God can reveal Himself to my friends and not to me. How can our experiences of the same reality, if He is real, be so different? I wonder what non-Christian friends think. I wonder if they have experienced God in their lives, whether they are justified in their non-belief in Him if they have not experienced His love. If even Christians struggle with seeing Him in their lives, how can we expect non-Christians to?
Perhaps we have to rethink our notion of God, what He does, and the basis for believing in Him. If we are going to conclude that God doesn’t exist, we had better get the premises right.
One such premise is that if there is a God, then our prayers would be answered. I do not know how to find out if this is true. But for sure, if the foundation/premise of our relationship with Him is built upon having actually have Him answer our prayer in the way we expect Him to, we will end up angry and disappointed. Yet all too often, we are like the people in today’s gospel, who followed Jesus because they saw His signs. We have already assumed that if God is God, he answers prayer.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.”
13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.
14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
— John 6: 11-15
The priest challenges us–will you believe in God if it seems there is no miracle?
Tough. We are too used to loving conditionally, and for some this applies to only believing in God and being an enthusiastic Christian if He is a good ATM machine. Perhaps I was angry at Him all this time because I expected this too.
Our challenge is to believe in and love Jesus, even when there is no miracle. We are challenged to love Him not for what He can do, but love Him as He is.
And we can hope, as the priest further points out, that perhaps miracles are happening, just not in the way we expect them to. Perhaps the priest was sent to be with the dying man that day, so he did not have to die alone. Perhaps that is the miracle.