When Is a “Miracle” Really a Miracle?

A fundraising letter from a local hospital said, “Miracles at this place are part of everyday life. Miracles that come from technology. And miracles that come from human caring. I have seen them happen.” This is an excellent example of the inaccurate use of the word “miracle” in modern usage.

What this man is describing is indeed wonderful. It is marvelous to see a sick person recover. It is thrilling to view the fruits of recent technological advances in medical care. We are seeing transformations that people only a few years ago never imagined. Open-heart procedures, organ transplants, laser surgery, and a host of other new medical methodologies have been perfected in rapid succession. It is truly amazing — but, it is not a miracle! And, today we understand more than ever before about the “psychology” that is associated with physical illness. And this is surely helpful in bringing about cures but, it is not a miracle!

You see, by definition — and in accordance with accurate Biblical usage — a miracle is “an effect in the physical world which surpasses all known human or natural power … supernatural.” So, when a doctor uses a sophisticated new medical device to effect the cure of a seriously ill patient, there is no miracle involved. While the technology may be new and very advanced, it is still a procedure that is known and understood by men. It is an action that is in accord with natural law. It is not supernatural. It is not a miracle!

Miracles are events like walking on water, turning water into wine, restoring a paralyzed limb, raising a man who had been dead for four days, etc. These truly defy natural explanation. They are truly supernatural. The Bible records many instances of true miracles — but it also tells us that no such miracles are taking place in the world today (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). No, there are no miracles at that hospital — or any place else!

Greg Gwin