How do we deal with miracles? Some of us love them, some of us run from them….What to do?
This post is a discussion of miracles and the supernatural based on the movie “Heaven is for Real”
+ Christ is risen!
A friend from Church and I went to see the movie, “Heaven is for Real” today. I went in with no preformed judgments. Now, I admit, I’m a bit of a sap, and I was tearing up at several parts. They have the great background music, touching scenes, perfect hugs, the whole shebang. Anyway, I’ll try and divorce my emotional side from some thoughts about the movie. Especially because lately there’s been a lot of rumbles about it as well, ranging from: Is it for real? There’s no way!, Of course it’s true, and it’s beautiful!, It just doesn’t make sense, of course heaven is real, but I don’t know if I believe this story or not! etc…
To be very clear: I am adamant about not casting judgment on this particular miraculous story as real, false, likely, or not likely. Instead, I want to talk about what the movie made me really think about.
What is the real reason for scepticism about these things?
I think these are the guiding questions for myself in addressing the conundrum:
1. Is it because we think it’s actually truly a lie?
2. Is it because I disbelieve that God can do that?
3. Is it because there are uncomfortable consequences if it is true?
4. Is it because of my lack of faith?
The movie itself was addressing this theme, I just want to stop and think about it out loud.
Is there a valid reason to have doubt? If for example, the pastor is known to be a con-artist, or something occurs that is clearly against the foundations of Christianity (e.g. our Lord tells the child to tell the world that He has given up on them), then sure, worry; be sceptical. But challenge yourself as to whether you are forming your argument against the person or the event, because they’re two different things. God can and does work with both sinners and saints. So I would have difficulty understanding someone who is against a miraculous event because ofto whom the miracle happened, rather than about the miracle itself. Who the miracle happened to is relevant only insofar as repute goes, but even that with limits. The more important question is is there ample evidence that the event happened or not, and if the answer is that something supernatural happened, the next step is the discerning of whether or not it is from God. Because there may be cases where the person is of terrible repute, but at the same time, there may be no way of denying that something really happened.
But irrespective now if it’s true or not, I think we are in need of convicting ourselves. Do I secretly actually think that God can’t do things? Of course, most of us wouldn’t admit that out loud, but is there a part of us that thinks it’s actually impossible?
Am I afraid that if it’s true, it might mean that my understanding of something is incomplete, and rather than deal with a hole in my knowledge, that I should pretend it never happened? I feel like Christians often do this. Where something hurts their image, they pretend it’s false or fabricated, or they ask God to blind them, just to avoid addressing it.
Or, are we afraid of a different consequence: the atheist’s response? Would we rather say that it is not real and admit it ourselves before the atheist scoffs at us, telling us it’s fake? Because of a fear that we don’t know how to answer, do we preemptively agree with our accusers so that it’s only the fringe extremists who believe? Is this honest? It may be comfortable, sure, but honest? Hmmm…
I think it’s an escapist’s route. Sometimes people fear saying, “I don’t know”. People would prefer the event to be past tense, see what the popular masses say, then agree with that, and avoid dealing with the real issue. If we take this route, we can run into problems.
Look at the Old and New Testament, and specifically look at the number of totally incredible things that God did. Now stop and think about what the word incredible actually means –> it means not credible –> read: impossible to believe. It’s impossible to believe because it defies all logic. If the Lord were to work the same miracles as those in the Bible, would we deal with them in the same way? If we heard that a bunch of Christians were able to walk through the middle of the sea? Would we scoff? If we heard of food multiplying, would we say “no no no, they were confused, it was a mistake”? When St. Paul says that he saw the heaven of heavens and what “eye hath not seen”, would we believe it of someone today or would we find reasons to defame his character? Our Lord said that we would do even greater miracles than Him. But do we believe that?
Please don’t misinterpret, there’s an absolute and fundamental need for discernment, and I’m not advocating running after every so-called miracle that allegedly happens, but there’s a big difference between not chasing something in particular, and not believing that it is possible. In the case of the latter, it is not a seeking of truth that is the underlying factor, it’s a lack of faith. When I hear that an icon is dripping oil, do I need to believe that it’s genuine? No. Do I need to go see it? No. But do I disbelieve the possibility of it? I ought not to.
That’s where the movie led my thoughts: what do I disbelieve because it’s uncomfortable? Where are the lines between discernment and belief?
The Othodox balance: Couple With God all things are possible. with Be wise as serpents, gentle as doves.