I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? [Jeremiah 32:27 (NLT)]
When talking with my husband about the story of Jonah, he said that the whale story was a little too hard to swallow—it was too incredible a miracle to believe. Miracles! The Bible is full of them and, since they are supernatural events, they’re all hard to accept as true. Improbability is the nature of miracles. Yet, if we believe the Bible is God-breathed and without error, we don’t have the privilege of picking and choosing which miracles we recognize as believable and which we don’t. We have only one choice to make—all or none!
James Dobson tells a story of a prisoner locked in solitary confinement in a pitch black cell. Unknown to his jailers, he has a marble. He manages to maintain his sanity by tossing the marble in the air and then finding it again by listening for the sound when it drops. One day, he tosses the marble into the air and there is dead silence. “How can that be?” he wonders. He feels all along the floor and the marble is not there. He keeps trying to solve the mystery of the missing marble until he eventually loses his mind. When the crazed prisoner dies, the guards turn on the lights and remove his body from the cell. A jailer looks up and sees a heavy cobweb high in a corner. Inside the web is a marble. “How can that be?” he wonders.
For each man, there was an explanation that he’d never know. That’s our problem with miracles—there is an explanation but one that we will never comprehend. God can do things we can’t—things that we’ll never understand, not that we won’t try to unlock their mystery. Some people explain the parting of the Red Sea by saying the Jews actually waded through a “reed sea” in 6-inches of water. Their explanation falters, however, when they can’t explain how Pharaoh’s army managed to drown in a puddle. Some say that Moses knew the tides, in which case it is still a miracle that the Jews were there during low tide and the Egyptians were fool enough to cross at high tide. Others say a 63 mph wind was blowing that pushed back the water and exposed a land bridge for the Jews. Again, it’s a miracle—Moses was at the right place at exactly the right time to make a safe crossing and the wind miraculously stopped at the perfect instant to flood the Egyptians.
The existence of a physical explanation for a miracle isn’t necessary and it is useless to expect one. We can’t dismiss the Bible’s miracles as fabricated tales of wonder or base our faith only on those acts of God that can be replicated. Just because something is beyond the scope of a scientific explanation or our limited understanding doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. God created the world and designed the laws of nature and He can follow or suspend those laws as He so chooses. God is God and we are not.
With more than 120 miracles recorded in the Bible, I’m not going to try understanding the “how” of Jonah surviving the whale, the Red Sea parting, three men emerging unscathed from a fiery furnace, manna appearing every morning, a widow’s never-ending supply of flour and oil, a burning bush that doesn’t incinerate, Jesus rising from the dead or any other Biblical miracle. Finding a logical explanation for what transcends science and nature can makes us as crazy as the man with the disappearing marble.
Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature. [Saint Augustine]