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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 25, 2006

One way to explain miracles

By Monica Quock Chan

Days pass,
Years vanish,
And we walk sightless
among miracles.

Jewish Sabbath Prayer

Do miracles truly exist?

We often attribute unusual happenings to the laws of science or the cleverness of humankind.

If an event is truly inexplicable, we turn to statistics, saying that it occurred by chance or coincidence. It is a rare person who immediately assumes: "This phenomenon is the work of God!"

Yet the mindset of rationalizing is not unique to the postmodern era. Back in New Testament times, Jesus performed marvels such as feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, but many still did not believe.

Thousands of years before, God provided food and water for the Israelites in the desert and consistently rescued them, yet they "gave no thought to (God's) miracles" (Psalm 106:7). It is likely that even if the parting of the Red Sea were to be performed in our midst today, our human nature would be inclined toward unbelief.

Absent our rationalizations, it would be difficult for us with our busy schedules to even be aware of God's workings. Do we overlook miracles each day because we are preoccupied with our activities, or too busy rushing somewhere?

For example, if we take time out to enjoy nature, gazing at a stunning view can evoke a sense of wonder and the sneaking suspicion that a creator does exist. Or when the health of someone we know inexplicably improves, do we more easily credit medical technology, the hand of God or both?

Perhaps believing in miracles goes hand in hand with having a thankful heart.

Right after stating that the Israelites did not give thought to God's miracles, the psalmist notes that they also "did not remember (God's) many kindnesses" (Psalm 106:7). When we are appreciative, we see life in a different light.

To those who are ill or have undergone crises, each day of new life is both a gift and a miracle of sorts.

On a simpler level, if a friend contacts us at just the right time or a project finishes sooner than expected, by being grateful, we might see these as works of God.

Webster's Dictionary defines a miracle as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs."

By being thankful for the events in our lives, both extraordinary and ordinary, we become more keenly aware of divine intervention. In doing so, we might well draw closer to God.

Monica Quock Chan, a freelance writer and photographer, attends First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu.