For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been nursing a backache brought on by stupidly tugging on a stubborn weed while hunched over lower than Quasimodo snatching a centime off the streets of Paris. Though I’ve dutifully performed the exercises given to me by a great physical therapist, the backache just didn’t seem to want to go away. In fact, as time went on, it slowly began to spread across my lower back. By Friday of this past week, I was hobbling around like Mr. Dawes in Mary Poppins. But by Saturday morning, I had had enough. I said to myself, “I’m done with this backache,” as I hopped out of bed bracing myself against the nagging pain that undoubtedly would follow. And then it happened, or it didn’t happen, as the case may be. I had almost no pain at all. I was standing up straight as an arrow, walking tall once again as homo erectus instead of homo curvatus. All I could think was, “It’s a miracle!”
I’ve always believed in miracles in the fullest sense of the word. As Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I choose the latter. Miracles are any signs or wonders that can only be attributed to divine power. So sure, I believe that the parting of the Red Sea and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes are miracles, but I also believe that miracles happen all around us all the time. I see miracles in the rising sun and the dew-touched grass. I see miracles in a brilliant thunderstorm and in the rainbow that follows it. I see miracles in the changing seasons and in the circle of life. I see miracles . . . all the time. They’re everywhere.
The God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is active in our lives. God’s presence fills all of creation; God speaks to us through signs and wonders, in the depths of our consciences and in the words of the prophets; and God himself “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1: 14) So it just makes sense that God would give us miracles to let us know that he graces us with his presence all the time. Just last week, I received a phone call from a dear friend at a time when I really needed a friendly voice. I hadn’t spoken to her in months, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Something told me that I needed to call.” That’s God. That’s a miracle.
Miracles are like Pokémon: you’ll find them in the most unexpected places, as long as you look for them. If you believe in miracles, they’re everywhere; if you don’t you’ll never see one. The trick with miracles, though, is never to expect them. We set ourselves up for disappointment if we relentlessly expect a particular miracle to happen. God doesn’t work that way. God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. So the miracles we get may not always be the miracles we want, but the miracles we get are always the miracles we need.