Psalm 77:1-14-I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. 3 I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah
4 You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. 5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: 7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. 13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
Annabel Beam spent most of her childhood in and out of hospitals with a rare and incurable digestive disorder that prevented her from living a normal, healthy life. One sunny day when she was able to go outside and play with her sisters, she fell three stories headfirst into an old, hollowed-out tree. Implausibly, she survived without a scratch. While unconscious inside the tree, with rescue workers struggling to get to her, she visited heaven. According to Annabel, during her visit to heaven, she asked Jesus if she could stay with him so that she could escape the pain she was in. She said that Jesus responded by saying, “No, Annabel, I have plans for you on Earth that you cannot fulfill in heaven … Whenever I send you back, there will be nothing wrong with you.” After being released from the hospital, she defied science and had inexplicably recovered from her chronic ailment.
Psalm 77:14: You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
- Miracles can be accompanied by messes and life-altering changes.
I would say most often miracles are accompanied by messes or at least preceded by them. I mean, you wouldn’t need a miracle if you weren’t in a mess of sorts, right? The writer of Psalm 77 was in a mess. He was emotionally overwhelmed! He needed a miracle. Annabel Beam spent four intense years with overwhelming pain and isolation and having her childhood greatly altered because of a terminal illness. That would be tough for anyone to deal with. Even the strongest adult in this room would struggle to navigate through that mentally and emotionally. Put yourself in the mind of a child. She needed a miracle.
Getting the professional help they needed required the Beam family get repeatedly from TX to Boston. It was a financially draining situation. Annabel’s condition put a strain on the family and on the Beam’s marriage. To add insult to injury, Mrs. Beam was judged by church members who told her the reason for Annabel’s sickness was due to sin in their lives. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude.” J There was nothing easy about what they went through preceding their miracle. You better believe the Beam family was praying relentlessly for a miracle.
I can’t imagine how the Beam family’s life completely changed as a result of the miracle. Of course Annabel is in good health and is enjoying life as a teenager by now, and that is wonderful. But as a result of the miracle they have been catapulted into the limelight. Fame comes with a price. Miracles can be messy. When we receive one, we have to understand the reception of a miracle may come with some sacrifices on the other end. This is a family in demand. People want to meet them and hear their story first-hand. Now they have a responsibility to be stewards of the miracle they received. Their lives have totally changed. Miracles can be messy as they can change our plans and alter our lives in dramatic ways.
Think about the Virgin Mary being visited by an angel and being told that she was blessed and highly favored. You would have to agree with me that when an angel shows up and speaks to you personally, you have just witnessed a miracle. You would think hearing you were blessed and highly favored was exciting news, but Mary wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement and thrill. In fact, Luke tells us in chapter 1 that Mary was greatly troubled over the angel’s words. A miracle can be unsettling!
Mary was engaged to be married. She had mapped out her life, and an angel showed up to tell her that she was going to be pregnant as a result of a Holy Spirit miracle at work in her body and she would give birth to and raise the Messiah. Now folks, that is a miracle, and it is a miracle that Mary didn’t sign up for. She didn’t pray to be the mother of the Messiah. The angel had just ruined her wedding. The message had just put a strain on her relationship with her fiance’. She now had a target on her back and a scarlet letter on her chest as the people of the town weren’t going to likely believe that her pregnancy was an immaculate conception. Yes, miracles can be messy, and they can change the course of your life. Mary’s plans were all off the table, and she became the servant of the Lord to accomplish the Lord’s agenda in and through His miracle.
Do you need or want a miracle this morning? If you receive one, are you willing to become a servant of the Lord and have your life changed and directed by Him? You might want to answer those questions now because a real live miracle can disrupt your life!
You see, if you are going to get a miracle from God, you need to be willing not just to be a recipient, but a participant in the plan of God to use that miracle long-term to bring people to Him.
- Miracles are often preceded by questions. Watch this:
The question of why a loving God would allow anyone to suffer is a common question. The Psalmist asked several questions in Psalm 77. Revisit verses 7-9 with me.
7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
If I were to contemporize these verses, the questions might look like this: Has God stopped blessing me? Has He stopped loving me? Is God mad at me?
Why is it that we ask these kinds of questions? It is often because in the natural we don’t see God working or we don’t see Him working the way we THINK He should or we don’t see Him working as fast as we think He should. Hold onto the thought that we ask questions and we doubt God’s intentions because we don’t see Him at work.
Look at Psalm 77:16-19 16 The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. 17 The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. 18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.
That sounds pretty bad, right? Waters raging, rain pouring out of the skies, thunder that makes your heart stop and pierces right through you like an arrow, lightning that cracks across the sky to light up as far as you can see and the trembling of the earth. That is a pretty desperate storm, right? It is only logical to have questions and to ask, “Where are You, God?” But look at verse 19:
19 Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.
Part of participating in miracles is walking by faith. It is not for us to see everything God does in order to believe that He is working. It is not for us to understand everything God does to believe He loves us and is fighting for us. Listen, if you have a God whose every move you can see and understand, your God is too small! “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Our role in the miracle of God is to trust God even when we have questions and doubts, and our strategy is to draw even closer to Him in times of trouble.
When Christy returned to church to speak with her pastor about the suffering her family had endured, he told her that walking with God feels better than walking without Him. And isn’t that the truth! Even though it can be easy to cling to despair in a world that offers tangible evidence of suffering, faith is the better choice, not only in the midst of the crisis, but also in the long run because it will keep you moving forward.
Faith is the choice to believe God will work things out for your good and His glory. Romans 8:28 We either believe His Word or we don’t. I mean, how can we claim to be children of God if we don’t believe His Word, right? Faith helps us understand that God is still at work in the world even though it is no longer like the world He created. When He created everything, He called it very good. There was no problem with evil or fallen nature or selfish, sinful desires in people’s hearts. God didn’t create the world that way.
Once Adam and Eve sinned, people were born inherently evil, with sin in their hearts, with selfish thoughts on their mind. God didn’t waste any time in stepping in to perform a miracle for Adam and Eve. They had sinned, and that sin had separated them from God. He performed a miracle in providing a means for their forgiveness even in the Garden of Eden through the means of an animal sacrifice. That was a miracle. When they had no option to help themselves, God stepped in. Isn’t that what a miracle is?
Whether it is a result of a bad choice we have made or something like a physical illness that seems to come out of nowhere, God is still concerned about us and is stepping in to help us whether we can see exactly what He is doing or not. He is there. He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord who is there.
No, we don’t always see His footprints, but we know Him because we know who He has revealed Himself to be, the Waymaker, the Miracle Giver. Notice that it was the questioning the Psalmist did that led him to remember that God is the God of Miracles! It is ok to question as long as we exercise our faith at the same time. The God who came through for the Israelites and made a way for them through the Red Sea is the same God we love and serve. He will take care of us.
- Miracles can come through extraordinary and ordinary events.
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1yM5eQLeeE
So the true story of Annabel Beam suffering for four years with a terminal illness only to be cured by falling three stories into a hollow tree and hitting her head in the exact spot that would cure her illness without suffering any other injuries would have to qualify as a miracle. Is there anyone here today who would dispute that? (I didn’t think so!) That was extraordinary.
The fact that Dr. Kristi Hensley’s back was healed instantly in our service now about two months ago and that she is still pain free today from what had been a long-term and almost debilitating issue, is a miracle. No one could convince me otherwise. She was just standing in the sanctuary and was instantly touched. I could share other stories like that as well. God can and does touch people instantly and bring healing to their lives. Too many stories are documented in the Bible and too many stories have been documented in my lifetime to know that I know that I know it is so. Those are what I would call extraordinary miracles.
The movie, however, also documents many what I would call “God instances” where through the Sovereign hand and plan of God, He was working through ordinary people to accomplish miracles in the Beam’s circumstances and lives. Just when they needed support someone showed up. Just when they needed a doc appointment there was a cancellation. Just when they had to have a financial miracle, all of the sudden they had what they needed.
The story of the Psalmist is no different. Look again at Psalm 77:20: “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” God was at work in miraculous ways through the ordinary people named Moses and Aaron to lead God’s people out of slavery towards the Land of Promise. They were probably leading 2 million people! Two men leading 2 million people. That is a lot of people and a small amount of leaders. You know the miracle of God was at work to pull that off.
Here is the point: God can put people at the right place at the right time in your life in such a way to lift a load off of you or to bring you answers or to give you encouragement in such a way that it seems miraculous. That is the kind of ordinary miracle I am talking about. Here’s a real life example:
In March, 2004, dozens of rescuers were looking for 39 Boy Scouts and their leaders trapped by tons of snow. An avalanche in the high country of Utah’s Logan Canyon had covered the scouts, and 64-mph winds made rescue efforts extremely difficult.
Ironically, the trapped Scouts slept comfortably through the entire ordeal! The group had carved caves deep into the snow, bunkering in for the night. When the avalanche occurred around 4 a.m., the sleepers inside had no idea they were buried under six to eight feet of snow. The snow caves insulated the group from sound, wind, and knowledge that they were in trouble.
“You’re pretty cozy inside of them,” said Randy Maurer, the father of one of the Scouts. “You’re completely oblivious to what’s going on outside.” Thankfully, two of the Scout leaders were sleeping in a nearby trailer. They heard the storm, the avalanche, and called for emergency help.
“That probably made quite a bit of noise, I’m imagining,” a county sheriff’s spokesman said of the avalanche. “But if they would have all been in the caves, I shudder to think how long it would be before we would have heard about this.”
Instead, rescuers quickly found the Scouts’ location by jabbing probes into the snow, waking them to the news that they’d been rescued from a danger they knew nothing about. (Source: “Scouts rescued after avalanche hits caves.” Associated Press, March 7, 2004)
God was at work in His Sovereign plan to provide a way for rescue for the trapped scouts through the two men who had chosen to sleep in a trailer that night. They could hear, see, and respond to what the Scouts couldn’t.
Just as God uses ordinary people to bring miracles to your life, so too, you have the opportunity to be used of God to be a part of a miracle in the lives of other people. How open are you to allowing God to use you? Yesterday we blanketed our community with acts of kindness that I am sure to many felt like a miracle, an intervention, the support and encouragement they needed and for some my guess was it was just in the nick of time.
Miracles from Heaven. “Every good and perfect gift comes from God above.” James 1:17
Miracles can be messy. They can alter our lives causing our plans to be changed. Are we open to that kind of miracle?
Miracles can be preceded by times of questioning. God is there. If you are questioning this morning, be reminded that God’s footprints aren’t always seen, but He is always there and is always at work.
Miracles can be supernatural and in an instant or they can come through ordinary people and daily circumstances in the course of time. Either way, they point to the miraculous and sovereign power of God.
Are you in need of and open to a miracle from Heaven this morning?