Discerning the Miracle

Originally written 8/10/2007, revised 7/18/2016

 

There are miracles in our lives every day. We just have to look. That fact that we are here is a miracle in and of itself. Every breath we take is another miracle but because it is an everyday occurrence, we often take it for granted.

Some of us pray for miracles to happen in our lives for whatever reason, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but most of the time the very things we pray for already exist. We just have to be able to see it. Our focus shouldn’t be asking for the miracle, but discerning the miracles that are already present.

Which brings me to the text I feel God wants us to examine; Matthew 17:14-20 (NKJV) which says:

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic (lunatic; KJV) and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

This event happened after Jesus, James, John, and Peter came down from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured. When they returned to the multitude this man came to Jesus with his demon-possessed son pleading for his life, telling Him that he has been suffering all kinds of physical pain. He’d thrown himself in fires, tried to drown himself; all kinds of self-mutilation. This demon’s stronghold on the boys’ life was rather evident. The father tells Jesus that he had brought him to the other disciples, but none of them could cast out this particular demon. He earnestly pleaded to Jesus for His divine intervention regarding his beloved son.

Jesus’ reply was probably not one that was expected. Most likely, people would have expected Jesus to simply say “Okay,” heal him, and go on about His day. But instead He voices His amazement that the disciples, after being through so much with Him, still lacked faith. Now His purpose in this was not to jump on their cases, but to make a point, which was this: I’m not going to be here forever. You’re going to have to be able to do this when I’m gone.

Then He immediately calls for the boy. Without skipping a beat, He cast out the demon like it was nothing, because for Him it was, and the scripture records that he “was cured from that very hour.” Boom, just like that. Not a problem for the Son of God.

So, we’re left with the disciples, who just witnessed yet another miracle. More specifically, a miracle they had tried and failed to execute. So, of course they ask Him why they could not cast out this demon. What was so special about this one? So, Jesus, who’s never been known to beat around the bush, tells them point blank; “Because of your unbelief.”

This is where I must pause a moment. This is where I ask the question, have you discerned the miracle in this text?  Most of you said yes, that the miracle was the child being cured. Yes, that is a miracle, but there is another one. The miracle I’m referring to comes in the form of a promise. See, in the same breath that Jesus told the disciples that it was because of their unbelief that they could not cure the child, He tells them that with faith as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for them. That’s a promise He gave His disciples then, and that is what He’s promising us today. Despite the fact He chastised them for their lack of faith, He gave them encouragement at the same time.

Jesus gives us another promise in the Gospel of John, chapter 14 verse 12.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

He doesn’t select just a choice few. He didn’t say only the pastors, or preachers, but anyone who believes. That means everything Jesus did, we can do. In fact, He said greater things than even He did we will do. This is a promise from the Lord. All you have to do is have faith and nothing shall be impossible to you. That’s simply amazing. It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that I have been chosen to do God’s work. I mean, who am I?

I had an experience where I needed to discern the miracle in my own life. When I first came to Alabama in the summer of ’98 to stay, I only had one friend outside of my house; a girl just a year younger than me. We quickly became best of friends. We would go everywhere together and do everything together. This was all before I know the Lord. She was a Christian, but looking back, I would have never really guessed it.

Eventually, we started drifting apart. She started hanging around crowds I didn’t want any part in, and I started hanging around my brothers and cousins, all of which happened to be Christian. Ultimately, I received Christ into my life, and she seemingly grew further away from God. She started sleeping around and doing and selling all kinds of drugs.

Last summer, she realized she needed help and wanted to rededicate her life back to Christ. She contacted me and wanted to make amends with me. I genuinely was glad for her and wanted to support her decision and even felt a little as if God wanted me to help her, but I didn’t realize how much resentment I had toward her. God wanted me to help her get back on the right path, but I was so caught up in the past that I didn’t want anything to do with her.

A couple weeks went by and one day at work I received a call informing me that she had tried to commit suicide by taking about 84 pills and that she was in the hospital not sure if she’d make it through the night.

Immediately I felt so small and so ashamed. The weight of the possibility of her death fell on my shoulders, and I let the weight of it bring me to my knees, literally. I was at work and actually fell on my knees when I found out. Then God spoke to my spirit and said “Did I reject you because of your past? Who are you to judge her?” Fighting back the tears, I cried aloud, “I’m sorry!” over and over again.

Then God gave me peace.

He let me know that everything was going to be all right and that she was not going to die. He told me He did want me to go pray for her though. So, as soon as I got off work, I drove down to the hospital. Even with tears running down the faces of the friends and family in attendance, I had an unmovable assurance that she would be fine. When I went to the ICU room she was in, she was unconscious.

I found this out later, but it was past visiting hours, and the only reason the doctors let us in was because they actually thought she would not make it through the night. The doctors had done all they could do; yet in the face of it all, I knew she would be okay. After being there for about an hour watching her family members lament and morn over her as if she was already gone, I told her mother that I was going to pray then I was going to leave. I prayed a very simply prayer, but everyone that was around took note of it and remembered it. I left shortly afterward.

I wasn’t ten minutes from the hospital when my cell phone rings. It was her cousin telling me that she just woke up and called out her name.

What was that it said in Matthew 17 verse 18? “…and the child was cured from that very hour.”

Discerning the miracle.

Again, can you identify the miracle here? Yes, God just about raised her from the dead. However, there is a miracle God did in my life that day. He revealed to me that had I not been obedient, she would have died. Had I not gone down to the hospital and prayed for her, that miracle would not have taken place. I’m referring to the miracle that God could use me to do something so extraordinary.

I’m nobody special. I’m not Paul or Moses or Abraham. I’m just me. I have no problem understanding that God can do anything. What blew me away is that He did it through me. That’s beyond my ability to comprehend. And if God can perform miracles through me, what’s stopping Him from doing the same with you?

An interesting thing I thought about later was the fact that God, in His infinite wisdom, didn’t tell me the miracle was basically in my hands. If I had known the only way she would have lived was if I prayed for her, would I have done it?

I don’t think I would have.

Not because I wanted her to die or that I doubt God could raise the dead, but because I did not believe God could use me to raise the dead. Just like the disciples, my unbelief would have kept me from performing the miracle. However, God is gracious. He knew that I would not be able to do it unless I was ignorant of the fact that I was responsible. Now that I’ve seen me do it, the unbelief is waning.

This is the parallel miracle in the text and in my personal example; you and I have been called to do great things. The only thing stopping us is ourselves; our unbelief. May we keep the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 in our hearts; “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Amen.

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