Theology in the unlikely places

Show me a sign!

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This article was published on fervr.net on 7/10/15

Would an amazing, powerful, miraculous event grow your trust in God? Let’s take a look…

If you haven’t read Exodus in a while, take a glance at chapter 16:

  • The Israelites marched out of Egypt free from slavery just about six weeks prior.
  • They had witnessed the spectacular ten plagues of Egypt in close proximity not that long ago.
  • And on top of that, they were lucky enough to walk through the Red sea on dry ground while the water stood as wall on both sides, which is way beyond any human imagination.

After these miracles, if there is a measuring unit for faith, their faith in God must have been at 100% right? The answer unfortunately is wrong!

How quickly we forget

The Israelites grumbled against Moses and God twice already in their first few weeks of exodus – once for bitter water at Marah and now for the lack of food in the desert.

They must have thought that if God had defeated the most powerful kingdom on earth at that time and freed them from slavery, split a sea in two so they could walk through it, he could have thought about some of the other minor details like food and water. Surely!

What about us? Would we be any different? We are tempted to say that if we were one of the Israelites during exodus, we would not have forgotten what God had done for me so quickly. But is that true?

How’s your faith-o-meter?

Perhaps, we are better followers of God than the Israelites, but chances are we are not that different.

Our faith-o-meter runs quite low on a day-to-day basis as well. Our daily routine may not involve seeing rivers turning into blood or frogs crawling all over our cities but that does not mean our lives have any shortage of God’s care and protection.

We have all heard those cheesy lines in our churches and youth groups about how life itself is a miracle—the fact that our hearts are beating and that millions of neurons in our bodies are firing which enables us to walk, talk and think. There is a million-fold truth to that.  But at times, we find ourselves like Gideon asking God for a special sign to clarify our doubts and help our unbelief.

Miracles don’t always lead to belief

Miracles, by definition are unusual occurrences. God uses miracles occasionally to display his glory and thereby strengthen people’s faith in him, but faith cannot be survived just by miracles. In fact, one needs faith to see a miracle from God for what it is.

A miraculous cure from cancer or a supernatural phenomenon can easily be dismissed as just a random event if someone does not see God’s divine intervention in that event. That’s why Jesus in Matthew 12 refused to give the Pharisees a sign. After all, they accused him of healing a demon-possessed man by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons just few verses earlier.

Remember God’s power

We do have couple of valuable lessons to learn from ancient Israelites about faith and miracles.

  1. Faith in God is strengthened by walking through the Red sea, but it is also strengthened while trusting the same God to provide us with our basic necessities in life whether it is food, opportunities or other longings in life. You don’t need a miracle to strengthen your faith—you just need to trust God at all times.
  2. We all are capable of amnesia when it comes to what God has done in our lives. Even the most spectacular miracle is forgotten. Recording what God has done for us in a journal and periodically looking through how God has lead us in the past helps us get through times when our faith dwindles.  After all, we are reading stories from Moses’s journal today and it still strengthens our faith some 3500 years later.

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