Do you believe in miracles? This time of year with the glow of the lights, the decorative colors, the delicious smells and the memorable songs, it’s easy for many of us to get captivated by the atmosphere and the essence of the season. Our elevated enthusiasm, our anticipation for what may come, our renewed hopes and oftentimes increased adoration for each other all seem to turn into something “magical” at Christmastime. And perhaps a more appropriate term would be “spiritual.” Sometimes it feels as though a miracle could happen to any one of us at any moment.
If you turn on the television these days you can witness a variety of miracles: a magician’s hat bringing a snowman to life, reindeer learning how to fly, a grinch’s heart growing three times in size, or an angel saving the life of a desperate man. These traditional Christmas stories, along with the music that tugs at our heartstrings, the food that speaks to our taste buds, the decorations that soothe our eyes and the people that warm our souls all adds up to an annual ambience like no other.
Yet when these Christmas specials stop being broadcast on TV, when the festive songs are no longer played on the radio, when the decorations are taken down, when the Salvation Army bell ringers go home, when the sugar cookies have all been eaten and family and friends disperse…do we still feel that emotion of Christmastime? Do we continue to hold onto high hopes? Do we continue to believe in miracles?
As many of us know, Christmastime can also be a very cold, harsh reminder of who we have lost, how we have lost, or how we don’t seem to have much more to lose. Demands on our time increase, demands on our wallets increase, demands on our relationships increase, demands on our last thread of hope and strength can increase…and insights into how our lives are faring can tend to become discouragingly clear. In these cases, with the jingle bell joy ringing loudly in disheartened people’s ears, it can be so much more difficult to believe in miracles this time of year.
Despite the disparity between those who are struggling and those who are succeeding, the majority of Americans still lean toward believing in miracles – around eighty percent in fact. Which begs the question - what is a miracle? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a miracle is described as being “an unusual or amazing event that is believed to be caused by the power of God.” Although many these days agree that a miracle is an unusual or amazing event, fewer Americans each year believe a miracle is actually caused by the power of God. In fact, fewer Americans each year believe that there even is a God.
Desiring to know how others would define a miracle, I did a survey of my own. I talked with over thirty people of different ages, genders, and backgrounds, and not surprisingly received over thirty different responses! However, their feedback was similar enough to narrow down their responses to three simple definitions: A miracle is each new day. A miracle is each new life. A miracle is the impossible becoming possible.
First – a miracle is each new day. Is this so? Every twenty four hours the Earth completes what we call a day – this is when the Earth spins around once. Whether our days are full of monotony or adventure, we expect that each day the sun will light up our day and the moon and stars will light up our evening. We often don’t give it a second thought, or even a first thought for that matter.
If it took twenty-four hours for humans to spin around once we’d be moving awfully slow. But the Earth is a bit bigger than us, so as you sit there and I stand here, the Earth is actually spinning over a thousand miles an hour! That’s quite a dizzying thought! Yet the Earth is not just spinning in one spot. As it spins it is also moving through space at over 67,000 miles per hour – that’s 87 times faster than the speed of sound! And just in case your mind is not boggled yet, our Milky Way Galaxy is spinning like a top as well – at 483,000 miles per hour!
So can we consider each new day a miracle? Since we travel over one and a half million miles every day while attached firmly to this small blue-green planet of ours, it’s probably valid to think of each new day as being pretty miraculous – an unusual and amazing event.
Second – a miracle is each new life. Is this so? Let’s consider some facts about our human body, starting with the brain. The brain is capable of performing ten quadrillion calculations per second using only ten watts of power. Let me say that again…the brain can perform ten quadrillion calculations per second using only 10 watts of power. To put that into perspective, let’s compare our ten watt human brain to a computer. A computer as productive as our human brain would need one billion watts of power… as much electricity as it takes to power 725,000 homes!
Just in case you’re not impressed yet, did you know the human eye can distinguish between several million different colors? Did you know the human ear can tell the difference between almost half a million different sounds? Did you know the human nose can smell more than one trillion scents? Did you know your body produces 25 million new cells each second? I assume many of you may know how strong granite is…did you know human bone can be as strong as granite? A block of bone the size of a matchbox can support nine tons of weight.
These were just a few amazing facts about a human life, and there are countless more incredible facts of the over one and a half million species of plant and animal life found on Earth. All of this evidence makes it easy to come to the conclusion that each new life is indeed miraculous, an unusual and amazing event.
Third – a miracle is the impossible becoming possible. Is this so? These types of miracles don’t make us just “ooh” and “aah” – they also tend to make us squirm in our seats. Why? Because as of now, what humans know about science, these types of miracles are supposedly not supposed to be able to happen. But, as St. Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher once said, “Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” And miracles are not only possible and plausible, but they are consistent with the nature of God. And despite being labeled impossible, we certainly yearn for these types of miracles on a fairly regular basis, don’t we?
Whether by positive thoughts or valiant efforts, mankind is often attempting to see the impossible happen. We hope for cures of devastating illnesses, we hope for the healing of crippling injuries, we hope for unbearable debt to be lifted, we hope for broken relationships to be mended, we hope for addictions to be overcome, we hope for poverty to be eliminated, we hope for racism to disappear, we hope for child abuse to be nonexistent, we hope for a unified nation to live in, we hope for senseless violence to vanish, we hope to be accepted, we hope to be healed, we hope to be loved…we hope for whatever is causing great pain or emotional anguish to end no matter the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Much more often than not our positive thoughts and our valiant efforts yield little to no results – the miracles we often hope for do not occur. Aspirations turn into desperation, desperation turns into devastation and devastation turns into hopelessness.
This time of year and at all times of the year I urge all of you to believe in and celebrate the biggest, most astonishing and awesome miracle of all – the life of Jesus Christ. His birth of a virgin was a miracle that defied science. His life of perfect righteousness was a miracle that defied immorality. His death for our transgressions was a miracle that defied sin. His resurrection on the third day was a miracle that defied death. He was born to be God with us. He lived to be an example to us. He died on the cross to save us. And He was raised from the dead to give us life.
The miracle of each new day is often attributed to happenstance. The miracle of each new life is often attributed to circumstance. The impossible becoming possible is often attributed to human effort or unexplainable fate. But the miracles of eternal forgiveness, eternal peace and eternal life can only be gained by and attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who made each day, who made each life and who can make the impossible possible. But most importantly, He is the only one who was born on this earth to love us, to forgive us, to save us and to bless us…all of us…no exception…if we choose to believe in Him.
This world can be a discouraging and frightening place to live in. What we have done in the past has the potential to harm us and others forever. Why we exist has baffled some of the greatest minds our world has known. Where we go when we die is a reflection too often ignored. “When will the hate and sadness ever stop?” is a question that keeps going unanswered. “How can I be rescued from all of these sorrows and uncertainties?” is a question weighing on so many hearts.
Fear not, today and every day, and believe in miracles, for I bring you good news of great joy that is for all people to know – for unto us many years ago was born in the city of David a Savior, who was and is Christ the Lord. Jesus is the miracle and the miracle maker you and I can continue to rely on to provide us with great joy during not only Christmastime, but times of sadness, times of confusion and times of gladness.
When the sun rises tomorrow morning, be encouraged, and believe in the miraculous truth that those who trust in Jesus Christ, the best is yet to come. No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him!