No small miracles

"Oh no, my lord. It was borrowed."

“Oh no, my lord! It was borrowed!”

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is full of miracles. They happen for various reasons, but always they are a sign of God’s intervention in human affairs, and they always bring glory to God, because they are supernatural occurrences that defy human explanation. The sun gets extra time in the sky, the dead are raised, the blind see, Jesus walks on water, manna falls from heaven, and an iron axe head floats.

Wait a minute. What was that last one?

Lots of people don’t know this story unless they have come upon a few obscure verses in 2 Kings 6:1-7 that tell an unusual story that seems unrelated to anything very important. Elisha was hanging out with some of his prophets-in-training (we would call them interns) when the company of prophets suggests that they go to the Jordan River and build a larger place for them to meet. Elisha okays the idea and down they go to the river and start chopping down poles to make their building.

Suddenly, while they are working away, an axe head flies off of one of the prophet’s axe handles and splashes into the river. “Oh no, my lord!” the prophet cried out to Elisha. “It was borrowed!”

Now it’s important to note that this was the extent of the dilemma. This is not a life or death situation. It could have been solved any number of ways. It didn’t call for a miracle. And yet Elisha turns it into one. Maybe he saw it as a teaching moment for him and his interns. Who knows? But Elisha asks the prophet to show him where the axe head went into the water, which he does. Elisha then throws a stick into the water at that place, and up comes the iron axe head floating to the surface where the relieved prophet can pick it up.

So what’s the point? The point is, it’s all important to God. This is no big deal, except that the prophet cared about it, so Elisha cared about it, and so did God. This means that God cares about what you care about even though it might seem inconsequential on a larger scale. We already know there’s nothing too big for God; now we know there’s nothing too small for God, either. So don’t hesitate to bring everything to Him. There are miracles, and then there are miracles. No big or small. Just God breaking in on our lives. Would that we had more of this.

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6 Responses to No small miracles

  1. gregg says:

    I needed that today. Thank you.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Praise God He cares about me & my life in the big & small details! Don’t fully understand that, just thankful 4 it! 🙂

  3. cehall406 says:

    This is a great reminder as I struggle with asking for His help with “things that seem inconsequential on a larger scale.”

  4. Miracles are hard to come by.

    Or so we imagine. After all, we usually think when something miraculous happens, it will make the newspaper headlines and be the top story on the evening news: A plane manages to land safely even after an engine went out; a terminally ill patient makes a stunning recovery even after doctors had given that patient up for dead.

    When we think of miracles, we think of stories like these. And upon hearing these stories, the natural reaction for those who trust in God is, and should be, to acknowledge God’s kindness.

    In Jewish tradition, a miracle like the miracles described above is known as a nes nigleh (a blatant miracle). Jewish thinkers contrast this with another type of miracle known as a nes nistar (a concealed – or small – miracle).

    And while many passages in Scripture record an outpouring of praise to God in response to a nes nigleh (a blatant miracle), this passage from Psalm 79 does not:
    “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will praise you forever;
    from generation to generation
    we will proclaim your praise.” — Psalm 79:13

    The praise that the psalmist promises to offer for generations to come is inspired by the simple observation that we are God’s people, and that He constantly sustains us.

    In other words, in this passage, we give thanks to God because of the nisim nistarim (plural) – the small miracles – He provides for us on a daily basis, by granting us life and allowing us to serve Him. And it is this gratitude for the small things in life that represents the highest level of spiritual achievement.

    This is a lesson that frequently gets lost in the modern world of sensationalist news coverage. We think miracles should be preceded by a bang, or thunder and lightning. And of course, when we do see miracles like this – nisim niglim (plural) – we may even remember to thank God for His incredible graciousness.

    But often we lose sight of the fact that small miracles – nisim nistarim – take place constantly. The very fact that our complex human body arises every morning and functions properly is thanks to God. Our ability to think critically and our desire to answer the great questions of existence – the most wonderful qualities that are characteristic of our humanity – are due to God’s wisdom in creating man in His image.

    A million or more small miracles occur every day, and the psalmist reminds us that we should always remember that these miracles – just like the big miracles – come straight from God.

    What small miracles have taken place in your life today?

    Excerpted from Holy Land Moments:

    • Ineke says:

      love this article you have excerpted! I often ponder such things myself. As you say: The very fact that we rise every morning and that it functions is a miracle. No doctor, specialist or other learned persons yet know how to give a person life. Thanks to John too for pointing out the obscure but yet so essential Bible passage, which I have read, but had completely forgotten about. I have read though that had the prophet lost the axe head, that he would have been in a fair bit of trouble repaying it- he would have had to work for it as a bond servant for quite some time. But certainly this whole passage was a refreshing reminder of how God does indeed care for every aspect of our lives… Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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