Thought for the Week
Christmas commemorates an “impossible” event–the miraculous birth of a child to a woman who’d never “known” (had sexual relations with) a man (Luke 1:34).
It is commonly believed that miracles are events outside, i.e. in violation of, the laws of nature. Therefore, many believers see them as the breaking of those laws by God, and non-believers see them as unscientific myths.
But both are wrong.
The word miracle (in both Hebrew and Greek) simply means a “sign” or “wonder.” Think of it this way: Motors, following natural laws discovered and tapped by clever inventors, drive shafts that turn wheels, propelling automobiles forward. But these laws make it “impossible” to slow down or stop—unless some sentient being (us), using the same natural laws, applies a counter-force (gears, brake pads, ignition).
Two months ago, the day before a long-planned vacation, I rushed to finish installing a cupola on our garage roof. After attaching a home-made base to the roof peak, I looked for the twenty very specific wood screws the Amish builders had chosen for assembling the handsome new cupola. They were nowhere to be found, and none of my surplus screws were the right specs. I searched everywhere in my house, even the roof. An hour later, on the verge of giving up, I prayed, “God, what should I do?” Instantly, I looked over at our basement furnace. Which made no sense. The furnace was nowhere near where I’d been working, yet I sensed I “should” look under it. And sure enough, there was the little packet of screws.
“Miraculous”? Perhaps I’d accidentally swept them off the workbench, and then, in turning to reach for something, unwittingly kicked them across the room and under the furnace. I don’t think any natural laws were countered; it was more “miracle-ish” than miraculous. Nevertheless, it was a small “wonder” that turned my thoughts to the loving God who wanted to calm me down and commune with me before our scheduled getaway, which in itself turned out to be unexpectedly wondrous.
Jesus’ birth was, of course, infinitely bigger. Still, like my little “miracle of the lost screws,” it was not in violation of the laws of nature, but a loving, intentional counter-application of those laws by none other than…
The One who created them.
*Addendum: Not very well explained here, I’m afraid. For a further explanation of this point, please see my reply to alsavignano in the Responses section below.