4/7/19 – “People who pray for miracles usually don’t get miracles. But…”

Posted on : Apr 4th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Grief and Miracles may seem like an odd combination, but actually they are often experienced together.  Sometimes when our hearts are broken and our spirit is crushed, the last place where we can find hope is in a miracle. 

Miracles do happen.  However, that often depends on how you define “miracle.”  When we look at bible stories such as Jesus and Peter “walking on water,” we in our 21st century Western mindset, tend to think of this story literally.  It’s a miracle that Jesus can walk on water and Peter, well, can’t.  Kobie Vermaak, our former Seminary Intern and Minister of Faith Formation, used to say in such situation, “The question is not if the story is true, the question is what is the truth in the story?”

A very insightful Rabbi helps us understand this.  That Rabbi is not Jesus, but Harold Kushner.  Rabbi Kushner and his wife lived through the unthinkable agony of journeying with their son, who in childhood was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Rabbi Kushner chronicles their journey in the spiritual classic, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  In their journey, Rabbi Kushner addresses the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  Put another way, “If God is good and All-Powerful (Omnipotent), why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”  Or, in Rabbi Kushner’s life situation, “Why would a loving God let a Rabbi’s son get and die of cancer?”   

Before he could answer that question, he first had to address the question of why God didn’t perform a miracle and heal his son’s cancer?  After much prayer and reflection, Rabbi Kushner finally reached this realization:

People who pray for miracles usually don’t get miracles. But people who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of what they have lost, very often find their prayers answered. Their prayers help them tap hidden reserves of faith and courage that were not available to them before.

Those are very insightful words.  And that is exactly what Jesus was trying to teach Peter and those of us who would follow him after his death and resurrection.  The miracle is not being able to walk on water.  The miracle is to find the strength of Christ’s love reaching out to us, even when it feels like we are in, way over our head.

What an assuring and hopeful way to end our last Lenten Season together. 

Blessings to each of you!

Dan

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.  And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Jesus, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Jesus, save me!”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Child of God.”

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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