As I scrolled through my news feed a few days ago, a story caught my attention. “Man Declared Dead, Comes Back to Life After 45 Minutes,” the headline read.
I clicked through to read the details. The man’s wife had been woken up by his irregular breathing. Without any warning, he’d gone into full cardiac arrest and was rushed to the emergency room. The doctors had done all they could to revive him, but he was later pronounced dead.
As family was called in to say a final goodbye, his son stood over his dad’s unbreathing corpse and told him that he would not die that day. Minutes later, the father’s heart began to beat irregularly and ultimately the man made a complete recovery.
Doctors were stunned. They declared it a miracle. The father later said the prayers on his behalf and God’s work had saved him.
My fingers hovered over the screen as I read these words and my thoughts raced back to our own rush to the ER.
I know what it feels like to pray for a miracle. I know what it feels like to beg God to restart a heart.
Five years ago, I also awoke to my husband’s irregular breathing. Without any warning signs or symptoms, he had gone into full cardiac arrest. He also was rushed to the emergency room and when doctors could not revive him, he was pronounced him dead.
You better believe I had prayed. I had prayed the entire time I was doing chest compressions. I had prayed out loud while the EMTs were working on him. Even after the ER doctor said they had done everything they could, I earnestly prayed that God would bring him back to life.
He was my high school sweetheart, the father of our seven children and we needed a miracle.
But that miracle never came.
God had given someone else our miracle — the very one we had prayed for.
Why is it that God does a miracle for one but not for another? Why are some miraculously healed but others are not?
Here’s what we need to know when God doesn’t give us the miracle we’ve prayed for.
1. Miracles are by nature not normative.
Miracles will never happen every time in every circumstance or they would cease to be miracles. Miracles are rare instances in which an outcome has no human explanation.
Yes, I wish we’d had a miracle. Maybe you’ve prayed for one as well. But if God answered every prayer for every miracle, well, they would never make the news. They’d be ho-hum, normal, predictable non-miracles.
2. Miracles are not about outcomes but God’s glory.
Jesus healed many in His ministry but those miracles were never an end in themselves. They were always meant to reveal His divinity and display His glory.
When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4.
And after He healed blind Bartimaeus, it’s said that Bartimaeus “followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.” Luke 18:43
We may pray for an outcome, but ultimately our focus as Christians is to glorify God whether there’s a miracle or not.
3. Miracles are not a report card on our faith.
The Bible is full of faithful men and women who were not miraculously healed or rescued.
Take a look at Paul. Paul had rock solid faith, a thriving ministry and was full of the Holy Spirit. And he was no stranger to miracles. Paul himself had restored a young man back to life after he fell from a third-story window. Acts 20:10
And yet, Paul did not see a miracle of healing in his own life. Though he prayed three times for God to deliver him from a thorn in his flesh, the miracle rescue never came. Instead Paul learned that God’s all-sufficient grace made a miracle rescue unnecessary. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
4. Miracles never define God’s character.
Maybe you’ve thought, “If there really is a God, and He really is good, then He will answer my prayer.” But we can’t use an ultimatum to prove or disprove God and His character.
God has already revealed Himself perfectly in the Bible. And scripture tells us that God is sovereign; He is good; and He loves us beyond our comprehension
That’s true regardless of whether God gives us a miracle.
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8 Christ’s death and resurrection proved once and for all that God loves us and that He really is God.
5. Miracles are not the answer to suffering; God is.
What if God had done the miracle we had prayed for and restored my husband’s life? What then?
Well, we would have celebrated! We would have skipped all the grief and been able to resume life as we knew it.
While miracles may alleviate some of the suffering in this life, God has a far greater gift for us. The greatest miracle is that Jesus entered time, was born a baby, lived out a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected to new life.
That is the miracle we all need. And that is the only miracle that can alleviate all suffering for all time for those who believe.
This post originally appeared at ibelieve.com.