Jesus walking on water was not luck. Jesus has been praying all night. The disciples are out on a boat on the lake. They are struggling to row against wind. Before dawn, he goes out to them, walking on the water. They are understandably amazed. Afterwards, they travel around together and people recognize Jesus. They bring him their sick and he heals them. These events, walking on water and healing of the sick, are referred to as miracles, a word that is also of course commonly used today. I collaborated with my children—Alex, Jack and Amelia—to think about what miracles are and whether this word carries the same meaning today.
What are miracles? Miracles are remarkable ways God makes His presence known in our lives through his son Jesus, holy people, or everyday life. Though miracles are unexpected or unusual, a “once in a blue moon” (Amelia) rare occurrence, they can happen to anyone. As with the disciples, often people don’t understand the miracle or recognize God’s hand in them. Alex says, “[miracles are] something amazing that God causes to happen. I have many miracles in my life, but I don’t think of them as miracles.”
What about modern miracles? We looked at some “modern miracles,” from the Chilean miners who survived 69 days underground to science like DNA mapping to Marian apparitions. Are these miracles? By our definition, yes and no. These events are unexpected and rare, but some modern miracles also look very much like luck. And, as Alex points out, some modern “miracles” can also be explained by science and the idea that “everything has to happen for a reason. Math has reason too and if there aren’t any miracles in math so why should there be in science? There’s only a miracle when science finds out a new thing.” As for the Marian apparitions, my skeptics felt that “people were trying to see her so they see her; they want to see her, a mirage.” Certainly these miracles follow a different process than Jesus’ miracles, which people “see,” if at all, after the fact.
Final thoughts: “Back then miracles were way different than ours” (Jack). “I think that there are miracles today like there are in the Bible ―miracles can’t just stop happening but not as good ones as back then, not as big” (Alex).
— The Nachbar Family