Thursday, July 7, 2022

Expecting Miracles (2 Corinthians 1)

"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ" (2 Cor. 1:5).

A common prayer in the face of suffering is that God miraculously deliver us from our pain. Is this kind of prayer wrong? While it is certainly not wrong to pray that God might deliver us (we have already studied how David prayed many times for deliverance from suffering) we must accept God’s answer, whatever it might be. We come to this acceptance more readily when we understand the role of miracles and what our response should be when God does not heal or deliver us.

To begin our discussion of miracles, we must first define a miracle. A miracle is an action by God that is contrary to nature as we know it. It is a supernatural act by God. We read of a number of supernatural acts performed by Jesus and the apostles in the Bible. However, God is no longer performing miracles today through human agents, since the Apostles are all gone to heaven. This is not to say that God is not working supernaturally today. He is certainly healing the sick, even by extraordinary providence. But the purpose of giving His apostles the power to perform miracles was to attest to their authority to proclaim God’s revelation, just as Jesus’ authority was confirmed by miracles (John 3:2). Because God’s revelation is complete in the Scriptures and there are no longer any apostles, the need for a person to perform a miracle is no longer necessary.

It must be maintained that just because people are not performing miracles does not mean God is not acting supernaturally in the lives of His people. We can still turn to God and pray that He deliver us, even supernaturally, from our sicknesses. Many people can testify that God providentially healed them of illnesses. Yet there are many people who continue to live with sickness, and many have even died. God often chooses not to heal us. What should our reaction be when God says “no” to relieving our suffering? Paul says that one purpose of our suffering is to create in us patience and endurance as well as the ability to comfort others in their suffering (2 Cor. 1). Our response to God as we persevere in suffering should be one of humble submission. God knows what is best for us, and we can trust in His wisdom and goodness even in the midst of pain and suffering.

What should your response to God be when He supernaturally intervenes in your life? What should your response be when He doesn’t? Think about how you would comfort someone who has prayed for healing but has not received it. What might God be teaching rather than restoring full health?