Monday, March 03, 2008

Where's the miracle?

We are currently studying the book of Ruth in Bible study (to be followed by the book of Esther) and last week we discussed the following question:

Why is it significant that God did not intervene in Naomi's life with blatant miracles and appearances?

And it's true: He didn't. We have the luxury of seeing the events unfold in their entirety, God's redemptive purpose rippling through the centuries right up to the birth of the Messiah. From this vantage point of history, we can see the miracle of His plan in the pages of Naomi's story.

But Naomi had no such broad view. She went to Moab with her family, buried her man and her boys there, and returned to Bethlehem bitter, angry and resentful. In her view, she received no miracle from God, only distance and disappointment, and, oh yeah, a foreign daughter-in-law. Of course, the daughter in law, Ruth, will prove to be better than seven sons and through her Naomi will know blessing and redemption and grace. It will be a miracle, but a miracle wrought not from the sensational, but from God's grace working in the lives of ordinary and frail humans.

Why? Why does God not work as we wish He would? Why not a miracle or two? Why not a well placed lightning bolt or a "Shazam!" display of His power?

Interestingly enough, if you were to carefully peruse the book of Ruth, you would find direct activity of the Lord described only twice. Only twice in the whole story is "The Lord" a subject followed by a verb of action.

I don't know why. He's God, He does what's best, that's why. Perhaps because Naomi's bitterness came from what she wanted the Lord to DO for her, He chose to reveal who He IS for her.

I've sought the Lord many times in many different instances, begging, asking, imploring Him to DO, that I fear I wanted His action more than I wanted Him. It seems to me that He very rarely does just as I want Him to do; maybe He wants me to seek HIM and not His hand.

Can we not ask God to act? Certainly we may and certainly we should! But here's what I'm pondering: what will I do if He does not? Will I be like Naomi, bitter, angry, resentful, nursing my sorrow and wallowing in my disappointment?

He is the God who performs miracles, no doubt about it. Our God is all powerful and delights to show Himself strong on our behalf. Because nothing is too hard for Him, let's ask Him for the display of His power; let's approach His throne of grace with confidence, knowing He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.

But let's not only look for Him in the sensational. Let's also trust Him to work out the very ordinary and mundane details of our lives to achieve His purposes and accomplish His plan, even when we wonder if He is at work at all. Ruth and Naomi had no idea of God's redemptive plan unfolding around them; they did not know the miracle of redemption He would achieve through their seemingly insignifcant choices.

As we seek HIM with our whole heart, He has promised we will find Him, and really, that is the greatest miracle of all.


  1. "Perhaps because Naomi's bitterness came from what she wanted the Lord to DO for her, He chose to reveal who He IS for her."

    This one truth alone has transformed how I study the Bible and pray--that God would mercifully show me Himself more than all that He does. For as He shows me Himself and Who He is, as He sanctifies me to submit to Who He is, then all that He does becomes clearer and more precious--even in its more difficult and afflicting forms.

    Excellent post, Lisa.

  2. Lisa, I love this, and you word it so beautifully, as always.

    Seeking Him, not just His
    hand...asking God to act, but wrestling with "what will I do if He does not?"

    Foundational issues which define our faith. When He does not act - that is when we discover if our faith was in Him alone or if it was in what we expected Him to do.

    You would love Ron Dunn's book When Heaven is Silent that addresses so much of this, that I posted about a few weeks back.

    Thanks for some great thoughts.

    BTW, interesting: the minimal activity of the Lord recorded in the book of Ruth, especially since you are following it up with Esther, which doesn't mention God by name at all!

  3. Amen. I want to be able to praise Him and seek Him even if he strips me of everything as he did Job.

  4. Ruth is one of my favorite books of the bible. I would love to be in your study. :)

    "Perhaps because Naomi's bitterness came from what she wanted the Lord to DO for her, He chose to reveal who He IS for her."

    I need to meditate on this thought...

    Loved this post Lisa! Excellent!

  5. This post meant so much to me, Lisa. I've been walking that line of praying for a miracle (while also offering God "suggestions" for how He might want to work), and surrendering all to Him, trusting that He does indeed know what is best and will work things out for His ultimate glory. Ultimately, asking Him to be Him and to work according to His purposes...and then entrusting all results to Him, is the way to go. I know it's okay to ask for a miracle, but I need to remember that it's more important to ask Him to work according to His purposes, however that turns out to be.

  6. What a lovely post and a reminder that His timing and will are perfect. A reminder that I live not for myself or my own glory but as a part of the whole picture. A picture so complete and so beautiful that I won't get to see it until I'm in His glorious presence. But when I do, I'll probably mutter a dumbfounded "ohhh, wow. I finally get it."


  7. This is hitting home for me. I've got a friend fighting stage 3 breast cancer and I'm asking God to heal her. But what if he doesn't? I know I need to trust him if he says no. But I won't like it. She has two young daughters. I'm praying for a miracle.

  8. Have you ever considered writing a book? I am not saying this to flatter you but have often thought that God has blessed you with an ear and a voice for Him.

    This post was wonderful.

  9. I've been studying Ruth, too, and your insights are excellent. Naomi's miracle had to be worked out over the course of years, of a lifetime, and those are the kinds of miracles it's hard to see at the time.