“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.” Matthew 14:29 (NLT)
Peter’s example is so helpful to us. He jumped overboard in faith, started walking on water, and then took his focus off Jesus. I read this and think, “That’s so totally me.” Don’t you love the character of Peter? Don’t you love that he’s in the Bible and that he’s like you and me? The passage tells us,
“But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.”
In other words, when Peter looked past the storm into the eyes of Christ, God gave him the power to walk on the water. But, when Peter looked at the stormy circumstances around him, the wind and the waves, he became fearful and started to go under. When Peter looked at the waves, he forgot about Jesus and felt like he was all alone in the storm.
I imagine you’ve heard this lesson from this miracle before. But, I think this simple teaching has another layer of meaning. When we look at Jesus, we see reflected in His eyes an image of ourselves, our true worth, our real value. Our faith in Him yields a confidence in who we are in Him. When we are looking to find our miracle and we look into the eyes of Jesus, we see ourselves as He sees us – beloved, cherished, and worthy. But, when we look away, when we see the circumstances that surround us, when we see the waves of problems we face, when we no longer see our reflection in Jesus’ eyes, suddenly we question who we are, what we can do, and if we can overcome. We lose faith in the miracle that God may have for us, because our view of the world no longer has Christ in it.
Maybe you’re looking around at the waves that are crashing against you, and it feels as if you’re all alone. No. The God of the universe is with you. It’s just that you lost your focus on Jesus. You focused on the fear and stopped looking at the One who loves you with His life. Here’s a simpler way to say it: When we look at ourselves, we become overwhelmed by our powerlessness. When we look at Jesus, we become empowered to jump overboard into the miracle He has for us.
It’s no accident that so many songs and hymns speak about our seeing Jesus, looking toward Him, and fixing our eyes on Him. “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, “Be Thou My Vision”, and “Open My Eyes That I May See” all call us to look into the eyes of Jesus and see our circumstances in the context of the great Miracle Worker.
As you seek your miracle, remember Peter walking on water as he looked into Jesus’ eyes. Peter was doing fine until he looked away from Jesus and became overwhelmed by his circumstances. Remember this lesson: focus on Jesus. Don’t focus on the perfect storm that’s in your life. Focus on the perfect love of your Savior that will never let you go.
“That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. … A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” Mark 4:35-41(NIV)
Have you ever sailed through stretches of life with calm seas and thought you were doing just fine, only to be hit by an unexpected storm that rocks your world and threatens your very survival? Suddenly, the boat you’re in isn’t stable anymore. Suddenly, the deck is tilting, waves are crashing against your ship, and you’re flooded with uncontrollable fear. Suddenly all security is gone. You need a miracle like the one the disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and calmed the storm. Is this the situation you find yourself in right now? Maybe you lost a job. Perhaps your marriage is crashing and burning. Or, maybe you’ve lost someone close to you. Or a health issue has surfaced. A secret habit or addiction has been discovered. Yes, these are the storms of life that jolt us out of our false security. We tremble in the face of them and panic as we realize how weak and vulnerable we really are. The storms of life cause us to cry out, “Where are You, God? Don’t you care?” Such was the case for the disciples, and the miracle that happened then speaks to the storm of fear you face today.
The storm that came so suddenly on the disciples that night didn’t take Jesus by surprise. In fact, Jesus had them sail into the storm intentionally. He knew that they would encounter a storm. He was counting on it. Indeed, that was His plan all along. Who would expect God to chart a course into a storm! Many times, when we’re in the storms of life, we think that God is mad at us, that He’s trying to get back at us, or that we have gotten off course somewhere. Maybe we even think He doesn’t care. But, most of the time, the problem isn’t that we’re going the wrong direction. It’s that God has directed us right into the middle of the storm, which is right where He wants us. Along our life journey, storms may seem unpredictable; but, in God’s plan, they are purposeful. God doesn’t cause evil to happen to us, but evil exists. It’s part of our fallen world. We want God to protect us from bad things in life; yet, sometimes, He allows us to experience them. At times, He allows the pain, He allows the trouble, He allows the problem to rise up. He allows the storm and, sometimes, even leads us into it. But, God never wastes a storm. He never wastes a sorrow. There is a purpose behind every problem in your life and, many times, that very problem is an opportunity for God to work a miracle. Many times, the storm is the very barrier that becomes the blessing that directs us to our calling.
As you look to find your miracle today, understand that the miracle God has for you might not mean escaping the storm you’re in, but going through it with Him. The miracle might be that, by going through the storm, your experience with Jesus will be deeper and richer than you ever thought possible.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.”
Mark 6:41-43 (NIV)
Before we leave the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, there’s another image we need to see. It’s the image of the church and God’s people. So, imagine the scene as if you were there. This is how I see it happening. Jesus is standing with the bread loaves and the fish, breaking the bread and handing it to each of His disciples, who pass it on to the first people sitting before them. Those people have more left over which they pass on to others behind them. And, those have more left over and do the same. Imagine that sunny hillside in Galilee. Watch as the people receive their food and turn, seeing the ripple of humanity in a great wave as the food, ever multiplying, makes its way out to the people at the farthest edge of the horizon.
This is, of course, the story of the good news and our part in it. It is a picture of the spread of the gospel through time and history. It is a beautiful image of how we are part of the great miracle of redemption in human history. God uses the ripple effect. Like a pebble in a pond, you and I are part of the work of God that goes forward, touches others, and transforms lives. We are part of the cascade of events that started with Jesus and His disciples then, the apostles and the early church, and down through time to the present day.
Likewise, the miracle God has for you might be the start of a ripple that will extend to others around you and into eternity. But, note that the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand started with the bread being broken: “He gave thanks and broke the loaves.” The miracle starts here.
Before God can work with you and me, before the bread can be multiplied, we have to be broken. As you look to find your miracle, understand the power of being broken. Know that a miracle in your life will happen in the context of realizing your own powerlessness, your brokenness, and remembering what God can do. God has to allow you and me to be broken of our pride, of thinking we can handle the problem on our own, of believing we can somehow come up with a solution by ourselves.
Has He already been breaking you? Maybe you’ve experienced a broken heart. Your emotions have been shattered. Your dreams have been shattered. Your life is in pieces emotionally. Maybe your self-esteem has been shaken as your business has faltered, you’ve lost your job, or you’ve been rejected too many times in your job search. Maybe you’ve been broken physically and, after years of great health and strength, you’re now feeling weak and vulnerable. I believe with all my heart that God allows us to go through times of brokenness so He can bless us. Brokenness always precedes blessing. Jesus broke the bread and, then, He did the miracle. If you are at a place of brokenness right now, be ready. God is about to act.
“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’”
John 6:5-9 (NIV2011)
When you study the miracles of Jesus, it’s fascinating to me how He involves ordinary people and common everyday things in the miracles He performs. The feeding of the five thousand is a perfect example. As Jesus and His disciples stood surveying this massive crowd, Mark’s account of the story says the disciples suggested that Jesus should send the crowd away to neighboring villages to get some dinner. Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” (6:37).
I think Jesus was maybe saying to them, “Think again. Take a second look at this. What do we already have here?” And, this is when Andrew came forward and spoke about the little boy’s lunch. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will that go among so many?” Philip and Andrew were both convinced that their resources were far too small to meet the needs of so many. So, why did Jesus use the loaves and fish that day? Because God always starts with what we already have. Another reason is because Jesus wanted to involve His disciples and this little boy in the miracle! The same is true for us today! He wants us to participate in the supernatural event He is working. You see the same interaction when Jesus turned the water into wine and used the servants to fill the jars with water and take them to the Master of Ceremonies at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus told the men to roll away the stone and, then, remove the grave clothes from Lazarus when he rose from the dead! In the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus took what they already had, the loaves of bread and the fish, and gave it to the disciples to distribute to the masses of people.
I don’t know what the disciples must have thought as the food kept multiplying or what happened to that little boy after the miracle meal, but I have to think he was amazed as he watched his sack lunch feed so many thousands of people! I can’t imagine the disciples or that boy walking away from that experience the same. Miracles are transformational! Likewise, I don’t know what will happen to you in the days to come as you seek the miracle you need most. But, I think that, when God involves you in the miracle He is about to do, it will transform you in a powerful way. God wants you to be a part of the work He does. So, He starts with what we have. The small thing we have. The thing we overlook until He says, “Think again. What do you have for Me?” I think it’s His way of saying, “Are you with Me in this? Or are you on the sidelines watching like a bystander?”
The truth is that God can do miracles either way – with us or without us. But, by giving Him even the little thing we have – our hushed prayer, a crumb of faith, a simple act of love, we participate in the work He is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. We align ourselves with His supernatural power, and we have a part in the miracle itself.
“You have eyes, but you don’t really see. You have ears, but you don’t really listen. Remember when I divided five loaves of bread for the five thousand? How many baskets did you fill with leftover pieces of food? They answered, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And when I divided seven loaves of bread for the four thousand, how many baskets did you fill with leftover pieces of food?’ They answered, ‘Seven.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand yet?’“ Mark 8:18-21 (NCV)
The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. It is a miracle of provision. The story is the same in each gospel, but the four writers include slightly different details. There’s a short verse in Mark’s account that is easy to miss:
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (6:34)
This miracle was not just about material food. It was about Jesus, about God being present with those who need a shepherd. It was about Him providing for you and me. It was Jesus standing on a hillside saying, “I am here, and we’re going to do something amazing. Just like before when My Father provided manna in the desert. Remember?”
Do you remember what He’s done before? Are you looking for a miracle in your life? It might be big or small; but, so often, even the smallest needs feel huge and impossible. If you are to find your miracle today, you need to remember what God has done in the past. How have you experienced God’s provision in the past? I encourage you to spend time in prayer with God, not just asking Him for your miracle, but recounting all the things He’s done for you in the past. In Isaiah 46:9, God says,
“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like Me.”
I love this verse! I suggest you put this on your refrigerator and memorize it. This verse challenges me to remember all the miracles God has done in the past. When I do, my faith grows stronger to believe Him for the miracle I need today.
The needs you and I face today are part of God’s plan to help us focus on what He can do, not on what we can’t do. Maybe like the disciples, you are feeling totally overwhelmed and under-resourced. Maybe you’re like Andrew who brought a little boy’s sack lunch to Jesus saying, “I know it’s not much, but it’s all I could come up with. Just a few loaves and a couple of fish.”
If that’s you, hear God reply, “I’ll work with that. By the way, remember what I’ve done before?”
Whatever your need, whatever you’re going through, I can tell you this: nothing is impossible with God. Remember what God can do! His name is Jehovah Jireh – the Lord will provide!
“For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NLT)
Death Valley is the lowest point in North America, yet it’s very close to the highest summit in the United States. Just eighty-four miles away from Death Valley, Mount Whitney stands tall, rising to some 14,500 feet above sea level. From its summit, one can look across the great expanse that is Death Valley. It’s an awesome view. From that perspective, Death Valley is small and far away. The heat and barren wasteland that one experiences when journeying through Death Valley is a beautiful landscape when viewed from the summit of Mount Whitney.
The Cross of Christ is the Mount Whitney to our Death Valley. From the perspective of the Cross, the valley we find ourselves in is small and distant, conquered by the sheer height of the immensity of what God is doing in our lives. From the perspective of the Cross, our valley takes on new meaning, for the Cross itself was a valley like no other. And we need to remember that the Miracle Worker who has already climbed that mountain can certainly lift us out of the valley.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he told them that the Cross of Christ is the very power of God. It was at the Cross that Jesus made atonement for our sin. He paid the debt that we could never afford. He died in our place. The Good News is that the power of the Cross can change our lives today through the miracle of transformation! We can begin again because of the power of the Cross. We can be lifted from our valley of sin and death and be raised to walk in newness of life in Christ!
Are you living in Death Valley? Maybe it feels like you’re at the lowest point in your life. Look to the Cross of Christ. There’s power in the Cross. It may sound like foolishness to some; but, to those who are being saved from their old way of life, the Cross is the very power of God. Turn from your sin today and experience the power of the Cross to transform your life. It’s the greatest miracle of all!
“Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” Hebrews 4:16 (AMP)
For all the names of God in the Bible like Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rahpa, or Jehovah Shalom, I tell people that my favorite one is “Jehovah in-the-nick-of-time!” I know it’s not a real one, but I think it should be. Jehovah in-the-nick-of-time certainly describes how God comes through in my life more often than not.
Over and over again in Scripture, we see people who had lived a long time with a great personal need and, then, were touched by Jesus. We see this in the Gospels: a man who was blind from birth, a paralytic at the Bethesda Pool who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years, and the Samaritan woman at the well who had been married five times. How often Jesus comes to us at the point we’ve practically given up hope!
I know many people have prayed for miracles for years and years, and nothing happened. Maybe you can relate to that as well. I don’t want to diminish the agony of that, or suggest that God will always show up at the last minute like the cavalry riding in; but, I do believe we often see this truth as we look at the miracles of Jesus. He catches us when we are at the end of our ropes; He grabs us when we let go. He says, “Give it to Me, and watch Me work.”
One of our pastors shared a time of deep personal discouragement in his life and ministry. He attended a worship service with the hope to hear God speak to his heart, only to feel more despair when he heard the preacher talk about grace as “our ability to hold on to God no matter what.” Having lost his grip to hold on any longer, He felt completely lost and alone. It was, in that tender moment, when he let go and gave it all to God that the Holy Spirit gently whispered to his heart, “Grace is not your ability to hold on to God. It is the grip of God when you let go.” Immediately, the miracle of hope to begin again ignited his heart with renewed joy and purpose. God was not through with him.
One of the most painful things to admit is that I need healing, that I really need God to do a work in my life that I can’t do on my own. “God, I can’t fix this relationship. You’re going to have to do that.” “God, I can’t heal myself of this sickness. I need You to heal me.” “God, I can’t meet this need in my life. I need Your help.” It’s humbling to pray such prayers! Yet, the only people who receive healing are those who admit that they need healing. Are you willing to admit your need to God today? If you’re at the end of your rope, you’re really in a good place for God to do the miracle you need most. When you’ve given up all hope, put your life in the hands of the One who is called our Blessed Hope.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!”
Proverbs 3:5-8 (MSG)
Like the paralytic that Jesus healed at the Pool of Bethesda, imagine yourself sitting by the edge of the pool and looking for assistance, for healing, for an escape from your circumstances. Then, Jesus does something you never thought or even imagined He’d do. This Bethesda pool and the healing waters must have seemed like a cruel game to him. It must have felt like torture to be lying right next to the pool year in and year out, yet remaining paralyzed and unchanged. No one was there to pick him up and place him in the pool. If only … just one time … this could happen.
Would Jesus help him into the pool? Instead, Jesus asked him, “Would you like to get well?” The paralytic man said to Him, “I can’t, sir, for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always get there ahead of me.”
His words suggest both hopelessness and hope. His voice descends into the depths of self-pity and, then, rises in anticipation of what this Jesus might do for him, as if to say, “Have pity on me, Sir, please. Maybe You’re the One who can help me get into the water.”
Clearly, he saw his deliverance and healing in the waters of the Bethesda pool. Instead, Jesus, the Son of God, surprises him with an extraordinary command, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” No healing pool needed. No magic. No troubled waters. No angels. Jesus was saying to the paralytic, “Don’t look over there at the pool. That won’t save you. The miracle is over here. I am the miracle you need most.”
And, perhaps, that’s what Jesus is saying to you and me today: “You think you need that kind of a miracle, but I have something else for you. You think you need this change or solution in your life, but I have a better idea. You think that will transform your life. But, actually, I will.”
So often, we’re looking for the wrong miracle. We’re looking at the pool of troubled waters when we have the Source of living water – Jesus Himself! Quit settling for less. He’s the miracle we need most but, too often, least expect. Let God surprise you with the miracle you least expect!
“… I am the LORD, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26c (NIV)
If we are to experience the miracle of healing, we must lean on God’s healing promises and respond in faith to His Word. One of my favorite promises is found in Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) It says,
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
When you are praying for whatever healing miracle you need, search the Scriptures for the promises of God and lean on them. As you do, you’ll discover three ways in which God heals: immediate, delayed, and ultimate.
When the healing is immediate, it is obvious and thrilling, as when Jesus gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, or the deaf to hear. He alone gets the glory, and the healing will point others to Christ. Sometimes, the healing is delayed as God shapes our character in the process. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort and will often use delays in our lives to shape our character for the assignment He is preparing us for or the faith He is developing in us.
Ultimate healing is Heaven! Only in Heaven will there be no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering and no more death! Whichever way God heals, it is a miracle! God works every miracle in His time and in His way. Just trust Him and let God be God. When we are convinced that He loves us with an everlasting love, we won’t have any hesitation to pray for the miracle of healing.
“One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.”
Luke 5:17 (NIV2011)
Do you believe in divine healing today? In our age of modern science and medical advancement, many may be as skeptical as I am of those who claim to be divine healers. You may see them on TV or in huge public arenas. Often associated with their “miraculous power to heal” is a gimmick or pressure to give them money. These religious hucksters peddle the power of God to heal today for personal gain. Yet, the abuse of the miracle of healing shouldn’t cause us to deny that God still heals. In fact, I’ve found that even those who deny the gift of healing will pray earnestly for it when they get sick enough, and those who claim they have some magical formula for healing have to rethink their theology when it doesn’t come.
What does the Bible say about the miracle of healing? As with any other miracle, the miracle of healing comes from one true source – Jesus Christ. He alone is the Source of miracles. Luke, a physician and follower of Jesus, wrote that “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” As needed and gifted as doctors are today and as grateful as we are to live in a world with advanced medicine, if you are to experience the miracle of healing, you must look to the Source of healing, Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks of a variety of ways in which God heals, as well as different kinds of healing for which we can pray. There is physical healing; Jesus healed in this way on a number of occasions and still does today. I have personally witnessed many occasions where Jesus healed someone physically for whom we prayed, and there was really no other medical explanation. Then, there is emotional healing in the Bible as well. The Psalmist declared,
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
Another type of healing is relational healing where God heals the rupture in a relationship and restores families or reconciles friends. Grace and forgiveness heal the pain of separation and the hurt of bitterness. But, the ultimate healing is spiritual healing. Why? Because it lasts forever! All other healing is temporary. You can be healed physically, only to get sick again and eventually die. Lazarus was raised from the dead; but, he would later die physically again. Spiritual healing is eternal! Once again, the Psalmists writes,
“The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, You will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.” Psalm 51:17 (NCV)
Which kind of healing do you need today? God always begins with the miracle you need most!