We need God — but He needs (all of) us, too.
Jesus exemplifies there’s no one way — or right way — to a miracle.
This is not the first post I wanted to write in 2020.
In the wee hours of the new year, my family and I were hit by an intoxicated driver speeding on a nearly empty interstate. As we spun out across multiple lanes heading toward a concrete wall I thought, surely, this is when I die. It was such a surreal stretch of time — mere seconds during which I experienced a sense of calm I would have never imagined. But then something miraculous happened. The car hit the wall at an angle that halted the spin and we stopped with my door almost flush against the wall. We were alive and our bodies were largely spared.
Just a mere hours before our accident, I had declared among friends that my word for 2020 would be “live.” Since God spared my life, I have been mulling over this profound connection. I’ve been waiting for some supernatural revelation of what this all means that simply hasn’t come.
I wanted to write for those of us who weren’t feeling the enthusiasm of new beginnings and fresh starts. For those of us whose years had started off with something horrific that threw off our vision boards and resolutions before we could even get started. I wanted to title my first post: “New Year, Same God,” because through the entire experience the one fact that has consoled me is that even though our seasons change, God remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Then, 2020 took a turn for the entire world.
As someone who is anxiety-prone, and who closely studied network and public health theories as a cornerstone of my doctoral research, the anxiety surrounding COVID-19 started to stir up inside of me as soon as I begin reading reports from China. By the beginning of March, I was battling severe anxiety as I made the decision to cancel a Spring Break trip amidst conflicting reports of the seriousness of the virus and claims that it was “media hype.” I trusted my discernment and canceled my trip just hours before I was to board my flight on March 9th. Three days later, the city of Houston made an emergency declaration and by the end of the week our administration was closing our borders and panic shopping had wiped the shelves of grocery stores.
While I was glad that I had followed my discernment, I struggled with how to get others to take COVID-19 seriously and to take action by social distancing and following other best practices being prescribed by health officials. I nearly fought with friends and family members as tensions were rising. Why wouldn’t they just listen to me?
My spirit was troubled, so I took my anxieties to God so that He could search me, know my heart, test me, and know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23–24). I didn’t want to be prideful and assume that I knew what was best. I also didn’t want to be fearful and spiral into a panic. I asked God: If my spirit is troubled, does that mean I’m not trusting in you? How can this fear and my faith coexist? How should the Body of Christ be responding to this crisis?
Almost immediately, God reminded me that as one body, He needs us all (1 Corinthians 12:12–27). Although the body of Christ suffers together, we are each individual members within this body, with separate gifts, callings, and purposes — especially in times of darkness. And, there are multiple ways in which He can use us.
Whereas the Spirit may operate within me to be an information gatherer and communicator, the same Spirit can operate in someone else to be out in the community serving others, and even still in someone else to be a much needed presence to a friend or family member, social distancing be damned. Though I tend to err on the side of caution, God reminded me that while, for some, caution in a crisis is required, others have been called to break the “rules” and are covered by the Holy Spirit as they defy the odds. This reminder allowed me to have peace in the midst of this storm knowing that all things will work together for good.
Multiple Mechanisms for a Miracle
In support of this word of comfort, God led me to consider the myriad ways that Jesus healed the blind in the Bible.
In Matthew 9:27–31, two blind men begin to follow Jesus seeking a miracle. According to the scripture, it seems as though Jesus does not respond to them. However, they continue to persist, eventually walking right into the home where Jesus was staying (what a radical pursuit!). At this, Jesus asks if they believe He can heal them, to which they answered “yes.” Then, Jesus touches their eyes and declares they are healed because of their faith.
Mark 10:46–52 and Luke 18:35 tell the story of blind Bartimaeus (although Matthew 20 indicates that he might have been with another blind man). According to the scripture, Bartimaeus is sitting on the side of the road when he hears that Jesus of Nazareth is nearby and begins to call out to him. When those around tried to silence him, Bartimaeus only gets louder until Jesus hears him and calls him over. Then, with just one question and one answer, Jesus restores his sight and Bartimaeus begins to follow him.
In Mark 8:22–25, Jesus is in Bethsaida when a group of people bring a blind man to Him and ask for his healing. Jesus takes the blind man out of the village, spits on the man’s eyes, and lays hands on him before asking if he could see. At that time, the man states that he can see a bit, but not clearly. Then, Jesus lays hands on the man again. With the second touch, the scripture says that the man’s sight was completely restored.
Lastly, in John 9:1–12 Jesus and the disciples are walking along when they see a man who was born blind. When the disciples inquire about the sin that must have contributed to this man’s blindness, He reveals that it was not because of sin that he was blind, but so that God’s power might be revealed through him. Jesus spits onto the ground to make mud from the dirt and spreads the dirt over the blind man’s eyes. Then, He instructs the man to wash himself in the pool of Siloam. The blind man obeys Jesus, gains his sight, and then returns home to declare the works of the Lord.
What these passages reveal to me is that when we are ‘blind’ — whether we take that to mean we can’t see what’s coming next or that we are in a time of darkness — there are both multiple mechanisms for meeting God and multiple mechanisms for God to perform miracles.
Whether we are chasing after God relentlessly, sitting still while our cries get louder and louder, in the presence of loved ones who bring us near to God, following Him outside of our comfort zone, or simply unaware of His presence until He pursues and approaches us, we can all enjoy the outcomes of a miracle, even when performed in different ways. Perhaps it will feel like He’s not responding, or that He’s pulled us into a moment of isolation, or that He didn’t get it right the first time. His Word demonstrates that sometimes God will heal us with a touch, sometimes with a word, sometimes in stages, and sometimes with a muddy, dirty mess.
Faith and Fear Can Co-exist
In every scenario, He never leaves us and He never fails. And, in every scenario, the determining factor in experiencing a miracle is our faith.
God assured me it is fully possible to believe in (and perhaps even fear) facts and still have faith. Furthermore, I believe this is what enriches the Christian walk: We can know that cancer is a fact, but our faith says we are healed. We can know that the financial distress is real, but our faith says we have everything we need. We can know that the science and forecasting and statistical analyses of epidemiologists and health experts regarding COVID-19 are accurate, but our faith says God can intervene. Though these may be scary truths, we don’t simply ignore the facts. We turn to God with them and believe that He can move in spite of them. Neither our fear nor our faith should paralyze us or cause us to tune out the world, rather it should be what we observe in the world that serves as a catalyst for our need and belief in something more.
It’s not a miracle if we don’t believe the need existed in the first place. And, often, great needs are coupled with a twinge of fear.
Here’s what has comforted me in this time of need and uncertainty: since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, WE (the Body of Christ) have become the vessels through which God performs miracles on earth, empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit. This means that in the same way Jesus performed the miracle of healing the blind in four different ways, we can each believe for and contribute to miracles, signs, and wonders here on Earth today. What that looks like for you, and for me, and for our neighbors, church leaders, family members, or loved ones may look drastically different. But, I know I can rest assured that God can be involved in all of these. We’re all members of one body working alongside one another for God’s glory to be revealed.
So, whether you are self-quarantined in your home crying out to God louder and louder; or compiling data and sharing pertinent information for our most vulnerable communities; or empowered by the Holy Spirit to work on the front lines as a healthcare provider, grocery store employee, or serving communities in need; or silently questioning where God is in all of this and waiting for His miracle-working power to be revealed, it’s important that you partner with and rest in the Lord (Matthew 11:28–30; Psalm 62:1–2).
How we get through this pandemic might look different for each of us, but one thing I know for sure is that it will take every single one of us working together and trusting in God for the miracle we’re believing for. We need Him, but he needs us, too. All of us.