What to do when you don’t get your miracle

amboo who? via flickr

Miracles are, by definition, rare.

We all want them when we face those inevitable awful situations in life: sicknesses, comas, deaths, broken relationships, and on and on and on. We pray, we cry, we bargain, we beg.

Yet more often than not, we don’t get the miracle we wanted.

It’s discouraging, to say the least.

And the usual explanations don’t help, not when we are still aching.

God has His plan.
You will see so-and-so again one day.
This suffering will refine you.

We are tempted to scream back:

“I don’t care about God’s plan! What about my plan? I don’t want to see so-and-so one day, I want to see so-and-so now! And I don’t want to be refined when it hurts this much! I don’t want these lousy platitudes — I want a miracle! Where’s my miracle?

But there are so many miracles in the Bible!

The Bible reads like one miracle after another, one per paragraph…but that’s because the Bible only records the interesting stuff.

All of the boring everyday unanswered prayers or average happenstances that occur within the past thousands of years did not make it on paper because…who wants to read about that?

Life is not a series of highs. It’s not even a series of highs and lows — there are highs and lows, but life, for the most part, avoids those two extremes.

There isn’t enough paper in the world to record every single thing that has happened to every single person since the world began. So the Bible had to focus on the important stuff.

Same with other books we might read about miraculous healings and changed lives and whatnot.

These testimonies only cover a tiny fraction of the speaker/writer’s lives. The reason why their stories made it into a book in the first place is because the story is rare.

  • For every alcoholic who one day chucked the bottle and never looked back, there are probably hundreds if not thousands who continue to wrestle with and fail at kicking their habit.
  • For every child miraculously saved from a fatal diagnosis are hundreds if not thousands who did not make it.
  • For every person who walks away from a massive car accident without a scratch, hundreds if not thousands are today buried six feet under.

I hate to sound so unpleasant, but unfortunately, life is unpleasant like that.

So hope for a miracle? Sure. But expect a miracle, we should not.


God is not a lawbreaker

Our world is run on laws.

I’m not talking about the stuff legislators come up with and congressmen vote on. I’m talking about the Laws that have governed us and our world since before our ancestors were born:

The Law of physics. The Laws of probabililty and statistics, biology, psychology, society…and more.

As one of the most famous physical laws states:

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Put another way, every action (or non-action) has a consequence. Often we have influence over the action…but never do we have control over the consequence.

  • If a person eats tons of sugar and does not exercise, his health will deteriorate, not improve.
  • If a teen falls off a balcony, she will end up on the ground, not floating in midair.
  • If someone shoots another person, that person will be injured and bleed and maybe die. He will not, unlike Neo in the Matrix, effortlessly dodge the bullets and come back up all fine and dandy and ready for another round.

(So if you don’t want to end up injured, unhealthy, or maybe dead, it’s a good idea to be careful around heights, junk food, and trigger-happy people).

These rules and consequences are good and necessary, most of the time, especially when we follow them.

(If food and gravity did not work, we’d be dead. Guns are another story, but there is a place even for them — for instance, if you are facing a rabid animal, or need to hunt for food)

Sometimes, unfortunately, we like to think we are the exception to certain rules/consequences when we are not.

I can drink and drive and be fine!…

Well, maybe.

If you’re lucky.

But you also might end up wrapped around a telephone pole. (Or worse, an innocent bystander)

And if that happens, it would be ludicrous to blame God for not miraculously driving your car for you so that you did not plow into a pole, or a human being.


The point is,

Only God CAN change consequences, but He DOESN’T often mess with the existing laws to change situations.

If He did, why would he create laws in the first place?

This is hard to accept — especially if you are the inocent bystander, or the family of the innocent bystander that was plowed into by an irresponsible driver.

It’s certainly not your fault, in that case, that this horrible thing happened to you — but it is hard (probably impossible, in fact) to understand why God does not make things work out so that the drver’s bad decision affects him, and only him.

Because that’s another Law, by the way:

Whatever you do or don’t do affects more people than just you.

Which is why, when bad stuff happens and miracles don’t, we do need to consider how we’re going to react to the situation, because what we choose will affect us — but it will affect many more than us.

So what DO you do when you don’t get your miracle?

Beats me.

I’m not kidding — I don’t know the answer. If I said I did, I’d be lying.

I can only pass on some sound bytes of wisdom that I have heard and read and experienced in my past, and not all of them will work for every person in every situation.

Here is my paltry offering. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.


1. Wait. Be patient. And keep asking for the miracle.

Maybe your miracle is just around the corner, waiting for the right time to show up. You may not need to give up yet.

Jesus told the story of a persistent widow who begged a judge for justice until he got tired of her coming around and gave her what she wanted. God used this story to illustrate how even godless people give askers what they want if they ask persistently — so how much more will a good God give good things to those who ask Him?

Also, in Daniel, there is a story of the hoary prophet begging God for help for his country, and one day an angel appears and tells him:

Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.

There’s a lot of stuff happening in the unseen realms that we aren’t aware of. So if you haven’t gotten a miracle — or even an answer — yet, don’t give up, the answer may be on its way.

2. Give up. Stop asking for something that you know you are not meant to have.

When David committed adultery and then murder to cover up the adultery, his first child born out of wedlock fell deathly ill.

God told him that the child would die, as a consequence of his evil behavior.

Still, David prayed hard that the child be spared. When the child died, David stopped fasting and praying for a miracle. He knew what God said, he knew why, and he knew there was no point in asking any more.

Sometimes, certain people in certain circumstances know they are not supposed to have what they want.

So don’t waste time asking for what you aren’t meant to have. Figure out instead how to work with what you have right now.


3. Find out how to be a miracle for someone else.

Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, stated that in his early years, he often prayed for limbs so that he could be like everyone else and stop being bullied. But he realized, in time:

“If you can’t get a miracle — become one.”

Today, Nick Vujicic is a well-known inspirational speaker and writer, who has traveled all over the world, played all kinds of sports, and experienced far more of life than the average human being. He is also married and the father of four.

His story has inspired and changed the lives of millions of people, maybe more. If God had answered his early prayers and miraculously given him limbs overnight, Nick Vujicic never would have been able to do the wonderful things he did, and is still doing even now.

4. DON’T do anything, for now. Just grieve.

It’s okay to cry, to be sad, to be mad sometimes. Anyone who tells you that it’s never okay is wrong.

Just look in the Bible. Half the Psalms sound quite “irreligious” with all their “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?’s” and their “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?’s”

Then there’s Lamentations, and Hosea, and all kinds of books and verses and people, crying out about the unfairness and pain of life.

You can do that too. God’s not stopping you. Grief is part of life, part of a broken world. We all must grieve sometime.

Markus Spiske

5. But don’t stay in grief.

If you’re still alive, chances are, you probably have stuff to do. Go do that stuff.

When you have cried, when you have been comforted, put your pain on the shelf and go do something else. Sometimes you will come back (or be forced back) to your grief and you may have to cry all over again.

But over time, things will change. They will likely get better.

Even if they don’t, you’re here for a reason. That reason involves you doing something. So don’t think too much. Go do something.

6. Keep praying…

  • For your miracle, if it’s still possible and you don’t know that it is something you are not meant to have.
  • For strength to bear the burden you did not ask for, but have been forced to carry.
  • For comfort in your grief so that, perhaps, one day you may use “the comfort you have received to comfort others.”
  • For God to do something good with the suffering you have had to go through.
  • For answers, if you must (but remember to be okay if you don’t get any. We don’t know everything, we probably aren’t meant to)
  • For a truth-filled perspective so that you do not grow bitter, or hopeless, or destructive to yourself and others.
  • For other people, so that you do not focus so deeply on your own problems that you implode in self-destruction— there are millions, billions of people who are suffering. Pick a few and pray for them.

7. And…

That’s all I got. If it’s not quite enough, I’m sorry.

If you have something better, by all means, please share — goodness knows we all need it!


Thank you for reading (…this rather disappointing article)

I wrote this because I have received some answers to prayers that, in the past, I considered miraculous.

But the miracle I would really like to happen has not (yet) happened.

For now, I am going with strategies #1 and #6 to deal with this unpleasant period of life. I’ve done #4 and #5, sometimes flip-flopping between the two so quickly it makes me dizzy. And writing is my way of trying to do #3.

That’s all I can do for now. That’s all I have. Like you, I’m still hoping for a miracle.

One last note

Oh, and if you are not the one who is hoping for a miracle, please don’t tell the person who is, that: “This is all in God’s plan.” Or any other empty line like that.

(Not unless you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that God has told you to tell them so)

Just be with them. Lovingly.

Trust me, it’s what you’ll want when it’s your turn.

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