SOMETIMES jaw-dropping, sublime miracles come in twos and threes. And sometimes they come to those who least expect them.
This is a story worth retelling.
Miles Toulmin, associate vicar at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London, told the miracle story of a small English boy who grew up in Kenya in the early 1960s.
At the age of two, the boy had been sexually abused. His life was crippled by fear and anxiety.
The one good thing in his life were his next door neighbours, a middle-aged missionary couple whom the young boy loved. They would regularly pray with him.
The boy became a teenager and was sent to a boarding school where, tragically again, he was raped at the age of 17.
By his early 20, he was diagnosed as being HIV positive.
Despite his background he became a successful company director. But he was not a happy man.
In his mad moments, he visited male prostitutes. His life began to spiral out of control and he eventually lost everything – his partner, his house and his business.
A few years ago, this shattered man walked into a recovery course run by Holy Trinity church for those struggling with addictions. The pastor who ran the course said he looked like “a dead man walking”.
The pastor didn’t know what to do. He was advised by a parishioner to phone a prayerful old couple in their eighties who lived in the north of England and ask them to pray for the man to be healed and set free. So they faithfully started praying.
Six weeks later, the pastor reported, the man had “the most intense filling of the holy spirit accompanied by the most bloodcurdling wails of anguish and pain that seemed to emanate from the depth of his soul.”
“He was set free from his addiction,” said the pastor, “and in its place is a passion for Jesus that is as fervent as that found anywhere.”
At his last appointment at a hospital, the man was told the symptoms of the HIV virus had suddenly disappeared after 30 years.
Even more recently, just by chance, the pastor discovered that the old couple in the north of England who had prayed so passionately for that anonymous man were the same missionary couple that once lived next door to the boy in Kenya.
“How did that happen?” said the pastor. “A couple pray for a small boy in a different country and continent 45 years ago and then through a chance encounter end up participating in a glorious resurrection after a period of several decades during which that small boy traveled to the gates of hell. What a great and utterly mysterious God we have.”
Now, some might try to explain all this away logically. Perhaps it’s all just coincidence that the elderly praying couple were the same ones who knew the man when he was a boy and maybe the HIV disappeared for some yet unknown medical reason. But how do we logically account for the sudden and extraordinary changes in the man’s life? Explaining away the number of miracles in a seemingly impossible situation in such a short time is even harder.
A serious of extraordinary coincidences are maybe small miracles where God has chosen to remain anonymous
Saying the miracles didn’t occur is perhaps more implausible than believing in the miracles themselves.
Can the tools of reason demonstrate the existence of the transcendent?
Miracles have no logical, natural explanation. Like Jesus feeding more than 5000 people dinner al fresco from a few fish and pieces of bread.
Like turning water into wine. Like healing a blind man. Like calming the wind and waves of the sea. Like raising the dead. Miracles are merely the supernatural everyday workings of God
A miracle is an event which creates faith. C.S Lewis said miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see – the miracle of our very existence.
Do we have empirical scientific proof? No. But God is either nothing or perfectly real. Faith cannot be seen, heard, or explained away by sceptics. Miracles, it has been said, are experienced most through eyes of faith.
As someone said, for the faithful, no miracle is necessary. For those who doubt, no miracle is sufficient.