A total lunar eclipse turned the moon blood red on July 27. This hour and a half long wonder was witnessed in the Eastern Hemisphere: Europe, Asia, Africa. It was the longest lunar eclipse of this century. We couldn’t see it in North America, wouldn’t have known anything about it centuries ago. But it did happen. Although it didn’t affect our daily routine and decisions and reality, it was still…real.
So much of what we judge as real we measure according to our personal experience. Even God. And His heart breaks because we measure and limit and define Him according to what we personally get from Him: a job promotion, a long-awaited baby, a healing.
Oswald Chambers said, “You should always recognize the difference between what you see Jesus to be and what He has done for you. If you see only what He has done for you, your God is not big enough.”
The book of Job has always frightened me. Actually, just the name Job causes a sinkhole to open up inside my soul. But Job’s pain-filled story is rich with life lessons. Toward the beginning, we see that Satan knew a love for God based only on blessings received could never weather the storm. So God agreed to the test. Turns out Job had a bigger vision of God. And now Job is history’s example of longsuffering faith even in the midst of confusing signals from God.
Job learned what none of us want to: Your God should not be defined by the number of prayers He has answered the way you’d like. Especially when the answers don’t come.
On a grander scale, we tend to self-define miracles. A miracle is often to us getting a response to prayer in our favor that seemed highly unlikely. And then we measure God’s faithfulness, or even His existence, by whether this happens frequently enough, or personally enough, for us.
Michael Shermer, one of the most famous doubters in the country edits “Skeptic” magazine. When asked what would make Him a believer, he suggested assembling a roomful of war amputees and asking God to grow back their limbs. If that happened, he would be a believer. This struck me as a little childlike for someone who claims to be a deep thinker. It also seemed arrogant, putting God on our terms. Demanding from the God of the universe an explanation, and proof. But isn’t that what we do every day? I know I do.
A miracle is God working in an undeniable way, one that couldn’t be explained with the knowledge that is humanly possible at that time. Always for the purpose of revealing Himself to humanity. Sometimes it’s medical, sometimes it’s physical, but sometimes it’s something bigger.
God’s responses can’t always be measured in units we understand. God moves and works in His world in His way. We focus on certain physical, observable outcomes. But God is bigger than that. Some say it’s a cop-out to believe that. I say it’s just as easily a cop-out not to believe because we can’t see it. Just like the lunar eclipse.
Not being able to reason through God’s answers to my prayers does not prove that He doesn’t exist. It just highlights the fact that I am not God.
Our limited human capacity cannot grasp everything that God can make possible in our lives. God’s ways are higher (and wiser, and bigger, and better, and more permanent) than our ways. But sometimes His ways are also more difficult to understand. They have to be. He is God and we are not. Even though we can convince ourselves that we can see all sides of the sky from where we stand.
I wrote earlier about being safer in the center, but wiser on the edge. Wiser doesn’t mean all-knowing. The more I learn, the more questions I have. And the more questions I have, the more I seek God rather than leave Him on the top shelf to collect dust. Along the way of faith, I often find more questions than answers. But the answers I do find are the big ones, the important ones, the sturdy ones. The answers I can build the rest of my life on. And that realization is the real answer to my prayer for healing. After getting our first positive report on my heart function, I made this journal entry:
I told my husband today that the miracle, strangely enough, is not about being temporarily spared. Someday I will still die, probably of heart failure, and that won’t make God suddenly unfaithful or unreal. The miracle is that God grabbed my attention and took hold of my doubting heart with a convincing grip. He said, “Will you trust Me? I will take you through this and let you know that I am in control. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am in control. Now, for the rest of your life, place your trust in Me like never before. And rest in that trust, regardless of the ups and downs still to come this side of Eternity.”
So through my unexpected and unexplained improvement, the doubt in my heart was eclipsed by the mercy of God. This time, I was on the Eastern side of the hemisphere for viewing. Next time, I may not be. But even then, God will still be real.