There’s a church west of where I live (I won’t say how far) where I’m told several people have left their canes after being healed. Online, I’ve seen pictures of the so-called “incorruptible Saints”. Off and on, it would come to my mind to want to visit those places to satisfy the skeptic in me. Even if I went, however, these things would probably seem more bizarre than convincing. For any sort of miracle to be convincing, it needs to be personal.
Throughout history, people have asked the generic question, “Why would a good god permit evil?” The generic but befuddling answer is “to bring out a greater good”, but in regards to the more concrete example answers, there are over 9 billion. Which ones would you like? The most important is the one regarding your own life. And while ultimately it might boil down to the same generic answer, if you at least know the specifics, it’s that much more comforting.
As an epistemologist (a philosopher who studies about how we even KNOW), I don’t find it difficult to prove the existence of “God” (at least, not the idea of God I believe in), but like most people, there was always a question as to whether “God” was really a being that cared about me. Maybe God was – as Deists say – “apathetic”. But this doesn’t make any sense. Everything in the universe suggests careful design, so it doesn’t make sense to say that the lives of the creatures within the world have no purpose. Furthermore, I could not be convinced by the old Protestant idea that God simply created humanity merely to “love God and enjoy Him forever” as if God created humanity for this pathetic state. No, no. God has a cosmic meaning of the universe.
The meaning of the universe is a communication of God with us. God, who is Order, is self-sustaining, self-supportive, and thus naturally “grows” so to speak. He created us to become an extension of that Order, Himself. In fact, given that God is outside of the system of “time”, such a process is likely repeated an infinite number of times such that there are an infinite number of other universes where this passionate story of God giving Himself to lowly beings and raising them up to be One with Him is played over and over again.
This is nice and lovely, though for humans, there exists this general separation between theory and application. Everything sounds nice in theory. Even ideas that are terrible sound nice in theory. And as much as I wanted to believe God cared about me, there was also that thought in my mind that perhaps every “blessing” I had experienced up to this point was actually just good luck. To put it bluntly, I “believed” in a good God, but I actually didn’t fully believe it. When I prayed, I entered that wonderful little world, and then when I stepped out, I stepped back into the “real world” as we call it – that world where things are harsh and nice pleasantries fail and science rules.
Many times, I would go outside just to unite these two worlds, but I wanted something definitive. I wanted a personal sign that God cared about me, not just some bizarre physical phenomenon that I could explain away. So God – or that suggestion inside my mind – told me to be on the lookout. Two days later, I did receive that sign, and it was absolutely wonderful!
Some random woman from my local parish was with me in the Adoration Chapel and told me she had received a sign for me. I can’t tell you how many odd-balls I’ve read about making such a claim. I’m a good skeptic and curiosity is healthy. She was obedient to the Lord despite the potential embarrassment. The words she spoke to me unveiled the deepest secrets in my life needing resolution, and she said God cared about them. She even knew my name! All of these things she knew without me ever having met her before (nor having told people about these problems)!
The result of course is that God felt more real to me that night than ever before. Even now, He is here, watching me write this. Not more than a week ago, writing something like this would have been embarrassing. After all, I didn’t really believe it myself.
I doubt you’ll believe any of this, of course, and I don’t encourage you to do so. This miracle was for me, not you (but I wrote it in case you wanted to know what kind it was). However, it did point out to me the necessity of personal miracles. I had to wait decades (after becoming Christian) to receive my first convincing miracle. And as a dedicated philosopher, this particular kind of miracle was profound to me in every sort of way. But you’re different, and you’ll likely want your own convincing.
Personal miracles are scattered throughout the Bible, attesting to the need of humans to encounter God on a personal basis. Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus. Yes, you could get blind just looking at the sun, but for him, the finishing touch to the proof was having his sight restored when some cowardly, non-doctor disciple of Christ paid him a visit.
I’m certain there are many cases where people don’t even ask for such a miracle because they believe it’s all hogwash. But if you do ask, be on the lookout for it. Expect, wait, and most importantly: Let God do His thing. Don’t “box” God in by asking for a specific miracle (e.g. “God make the grass green in winter”… hellooo Gideon) or a selfish one (e.g. “God please give me a big house”). Ask for “the right one for me” AND when God thinks it’s best. I think you’ll be surprised on the kind of miracle you receive. And if you don’t receive one, maybe you didn’t need it… or need it yet.
Once you receive a miracle, there’s always the invitation to become a better person. We maybe anxious for the miracle but not ready for the personal change afterwards. And if the second isn’t likely going to happen, it’s not a good time for a miracle no matter how much we want one. Personal change is more than just changing our day to day actions. God wants a personal change in our mentality. You might say he’s maximizing His returns. idk.
As for me, it means a ton of things have had to change in my life, which may be evident in my (infrequent) blogging. I can’t be a cynic or pessimistic anymore (but at least I can still be funny!). God knows the world’s problems and He’s taking care of them. That doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with things or find them crude/rude/ugly/distasteful – and it’s possible I will find things even more so! But there’s no need to harp on little details or feel like if I don’t write in an agitating way, I won’t change the world. My blogging should thus feel more relaxing even when it looks like I’m “complaining”, and that’s something to look forward to. Now let’s just hope I don’t forget like the Israelites did (as people usually do).