Miracles, Disenchantment, and Fish

“…as far as I’m concerned, every authentic human connection in this chaotic world is a miracle.”

“…as far as I’m concerned, every authentic human connection in this chaotic world is a miracle.”

“And Lord, we pray for healing.”  There were tears in the room, but that circle gathered around the hospital bed seemed to breathe as one in that moment.  And our collective grief and worry seemed to subside, just a tiny bit and for the briefest of moments. The report from the doctors was not good, and they were taking this case “moment by moment,” which made us all think we’d better make every moment count.  It was hard to sleep that night, but I went back to my daily routine with a tinge of grim expectation for news. Then I got a text.

“The doctors can’t explain it, but she’s getting better!”  And so she did! I remember thinking, “What just happened? Did the doctors miss something the first time?  Or did we just have ourselves a little miracle?!?”

Ours seems to be an age of disenchantment.  Much of what used to be unexplainable has now been explained, and so we’re all left with an abiding lack of wonder in our lives.  I’m one to believe that God is at work through doctors and science and medical advancements. But what of the unexplainable? What of miracles in an age of scientific inquiry?  

I’m inclined to agree with Albert Einstein on this one:  “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”  But oh the irony...according to the internet, we can’t confirm that Einstein actually said this!  So did that prayer years ago change God’s mind and save that young girl’s life?  Or did it change us and our outlook on the situation? To me the miracle is that even after medicine and science had “failed” us, we stood in that circle and felt real hope amidst the uncertainty of the outcome.  No matter how it turned out, we felt God’s presence with us. Did that change the outcome? I have no idea. But it made that moment better, and we were less alone. And as far as I’m concerned, every authentic human connection in this chaotic world is a miracle.

In Luke 5:1-11, the disciples had been fishing all night to no avail.  They were tired. The tried and true methods had failed them, and they hadn’t caught a single fish.  To me that’s the definition of disenchantment: what used to work has let you down, so what’s the use in trying again?  You can just hear the disappointment in their voices as Jesus tells them to throw the net out just one more time, this time on the other side of the boat.  In verse 5, “Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (NIV).  You know how it ends.  The nets were so full of fish they had to call for help.  

So you’re tired.  You’ve been up all night.  And you’re not sure anyone is even listening to those prayers.  What does the “other side of the boat” look like for you? Does the prayer need to change?  Has it already changed you? Or have you been staring at the miracle all along, mistaking it for science?  The most important thing is that you’re not alone. And it’s ok to call for help whether you’ve caught any fish or not.  ~Justin