Given my charismatic ties to Christianity, I’ve seen my share of miracles, whether it was a series of surgical screws disappearing from my brother’s irritated ankle or a small group leader’s leg growing to match the other in length. I know that miracles still happen today.
But not every miracle is physical in nature. In fact, the Christian Mystics tell us that these more visible miracles are the lesser sort. This is not meant to undermine the value of physical miracles, but we must remember that the primary purpose of miracles is to strengthen faith and so bring glory to God. Thus, the greater miracles, as the mystics tell us, often happen quietly.
The greatest miracle we can hope for is to be given a faith so strong that nothing can destroy it, neither disease nor persecution, neither poverty nor hunger. An impossible faith that only grows stronger the more our Enemy, the Devil beats against it, whether with his forces from The Pit or with the people we see and hear in the world around us.
Of such a faith was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, famous for her unfailing compassion for the poor and sick in India. For the last twenty years of her life, Mother Teresa felt a darkness she had never known before. She couldn’t feel God’s presence anymore and believed that He had left her. But never once did she falter in her mission of love for others. Her faith in the mission she’d been given by God survived even when her ability to hear and feel her Lord had left her. If that isn’t miraculous, I don’t know what is. We should all have such a faith.
Of course, all things are equal in God’s eyes. As such, I have seen miracles of this sort on a smaller scale in my own life. A friend of mine, whose name I will omit for privacy reasons, struggles with Paranoid Schizophrenia. He is rather new to the Christian faith and tends to cycle back and forth with his level of belief. But he never gives up and I see much future promise in him. The fact that I just happen to have been put in his life recently through a mutual friend of ours who brought me into the church small group they both attend, a small group I now attend regularly, is itself a bit miraculous. I have had the joy of counseling him from time to time and encouraging him in his faith; I been given the privilege helping him to understand the nature of this God he’s only just coming to know. This is something I never could have imagined myself doing only three years ago and now I find myself looking forward to every such encounter and even asking God for more of them.
I never was a very social person, and in fact am very socially awkward. I have major issues with social anxiety and usually have to spend at least thirty minutes working up the nerve to make necessary phone calls, sometimes even to people I know fairly well. I don’t consider myself particularly wise in spiritual matters and often feel I’m trying to navigate blindly in the dark when it comes to my own life. Yet I find it such a joy to counsel others in their faith, and when those moments come I find that the necessary wisdom seems to flow from my tongue with no effort at all. I find that incredible.
The endurance of the Christian faith alone is a bit miraculous. A friend of mine once remarked to me that Christianity was “the religion that should never have made it.” Think about that for a moment. Consider that some of the darkest places in the world are home to some of the strongest Christians you ever meet. Many Christians in India face open hostility on a regular basis. Men often lose wives and children to violent raids, wives and children lose husbands and fathers. Family men are sometimes beheaded in front of their family members, homes are burned down. Yet, persecuted as they are, these people never lose their faith. In some cases, their faith grows stronger for what they’ve suffered. That, alone, is a miracle.
Examples like this have happened with Christianity throughout history. China has one of the largest underground Christian movements in the world today. It seems the more the world tries to crush Christianity, the stronger it grows. This is what my friend was trying to touch on with his statement. From the very beginning the odds have been stacked overwhelmingly against the Christian faith. But Christianity thrives against these odds.
Are there parallels to be drawn from this in the lgbt community? I believe so. Lgbt Christians face criticism and persecution from two fronts. On the one hand, they are often criticized by Christian brothers and sisters for not measuring up to their own imagined standards of what it takes to be a Christian. On the other, they are also criticized at times by brothers and sisters in the lgbt community for subscribing to Christianity, that this somehow makes them “sellouts,” dupes, or gluttons for punishment.
Though Jesus makes no distinction between one kind of Christian or another, other than between those who are “hot” and those who are “cold,” our human brothers and sisters often do. Thus the odds can feel overwhelming against us. But take heart, and steel yourself to let Jesus make you part of the greatest miracle of all! The one that gives you a share in the sturdy faith of Christians in China, India, and the Middle East. Stay resolute and let Jesus give you that miracle of impossible faith! Seek God’s heart in all things and remember that our God delights in doing the impossible. No odds are too strong for the one we serve.