In my Christian life I've had two problems with the idea of miracles. First, like anyone growing up in our secularized culture, I thought miracles were not possible, the stories of them were made up. But that issue was substantially resolved within the first year of coming to faith. I realized that the belief that miracles never happen was a presupposition of naturalistic thinking, and was not necessarily proven.
Then came the second problem. When I accepted that God exists and the miraculous is possible, because God can choose to intervene in his creation, why aren't there more of them? Why aren't all my selfless prayers answered? I pray for people, God rarely intervenes to draw them to himself. I pray for evil governments to be overthrown, or for dictators to repent; and that doesn't happen. (Once it did, the
gave up on its empire in Eastern Europe, then
disbanded as a Communist country, and now there is greater freedom throughout
those lands). I pray for friends with life threatening illnesses, and most of
them have gone on to be with God. (That too is a form of healing, a better
healing really than a healing in this life, but still a disappointment.)
I began to think that there was some secret key to making Christianity really work the way it should, where it becomes substantially problem free and miracles become routine. I hung out with charismatics at one time, and thought maybe the key was their baptism in the Holy Spirit. But while I still appreciate the energy and excitement they bring to worship, that didn't make “it all work.”
This quest for the magic key was in my mind as I started writing Covenant of Hope. When I began, I was thinking perhaps Jeremiah’s promise of the New Covenant was the magic key. Maybe we were supposed to pray for God to write his law on our hearts, and then the magic would happen. I was going to make that happen in the story, and wondered how I could do that when it didn't really work like that in real life. Perhaps my story would end up as a subtle critique of Christianity – “if Christianity really worked, church life would be like this. But we all know church life is not like this, therefore Christianity must not work.”
But I came to the conclusion that there is no magic key, or perhaps I should say the magic key is to trust God and his promises, accepting that the promises often clash with our circumstances. We shouldn't conclude that the clash means the promises are not true, but cry out to God and ask for his help to address the clash between his promises and our circumstances.
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