The other day I was praying for someone who was going through something very difficult. In my concern for them, I asked God to go in and miraculously manifest Himself to alter the course of what was happening. God let me know that He was not going to do that, but will use people to help this person instead. I then understood a very important lesson about how truly amazing it is for humans to participate with God in doing His work.
I began to understand it more when I asked myself a hypothetical question concerning God’s supernatural activity. I pondered, “what would be more amazing, for God to part the waters of a river to help someone pass through it, or for Him to put in the mind of one of His followers the idea of getting a boat and assisting that person in crossing the river?” In reality, both are incredible, one seems more normal, but which one is more miraculous?
This morning I gave two of my children cereal for breakfast. Still hungry, they asked for more. I went to get them more, but their bowls were not on the counter. They were stacked in the sink. I was absolutely stunned by this, wondering who had done it as my wife was not up yet, was she? Upon further questioning, I discovered that my oldest daughter had found the empty bowls and cleaned them up because she “wanted to keep the house clean”.
If this event had taken place in Jesus’ time it would have been recorded in all four Gospels and discussed in one of St. Paul’s letters. What a miracle! The work of my daughter in helping to keep our house clean filled my heart with joy.
I see how meaningful it is for the Heavenly Father to have His people participate with Him in His work. But God doesn’t need our help. Once again, like everything that is good in life, God really allows us to participate in His work for us. In fact, we are made to work with the Lord in helping others. It is part of our natural existence. What is more, is that it’s supernatural as well.
Going back to our earlier question about what is more amazing between God’s separation of waters and the human cooperating to boat the person across, the true question is, “What is more miraculous?” I would argue that the human participation with God in assisting another is more miraculous. In both circumstances, God is using His creation to bring about something good for a person. However, in one of these, a human person is using his or her free will to participate.
To me, the second situation is far more miraculous and supernatural than the first. For God to move water of His own volition is easy compared to the reality of an imperfect human being using his or her free will to grasp what the Father wants of them and then choose to follow through with it. Similarly, it would have been far less amazing had I cleaned up the bowls in our kitchen instead of my 8 year old daughter participating in the cleaning of the house herself.
God wants us to participate in His work. He is constantly pulling at us and speaking to us in various ways to get our attention so that we may discover His plan and do the miraculous. Sometimes we just want Him to do this for us and zap our problems away, but He knows what is better for us and human involvement is usually better for us.
God made the world out of love and as a reflection of His love. When we focus on the good and beautiful things of this world, like the colors of nature or the breath in our lungs, we can see that we are loved by God. He created humans with free will to multiply this love.
When we freely choose to participate in God’s work for ourselves and others we multiply His love. If everyone does this, the world will be covered in His love and His plan for us would be fulfilled. If God solves everyone’s problems without other people, then the love is not multiplied as much and the glory that we can receive from Him is not as great.
It can be frustrating dealing with others who do not want to cooperate. I often wonder why my 10 month old son is crying and throwing a fit from hunger when the bottle of milk is literally in his mouth. I know he’s hungry, he knows he’s hungry, yet he refuses to drink at times.
We have to see this process as beautiful. When we seek to cooperate with God for others and the thing that is best for them is right in front of them yet they refuse it, something good can still be taking place. Taking the example of my son, when he refuses to drink milk when he is hungry and cries, he is learning to communicate, strengthening his vocal chords, and oddly enough, I believe that there is still some bonding occurring between us as I old him and he screams in my face.
If God just fed my baby without me, would any of that happen? Would we ask God to zap my son so that all those things take place as well? We should see that the slow process, while uncomfortable is much better.
Furthermore, when we use our free will to discover the good in discomfort, that can be miraculous as well. It allows us to lift up the natural events of our lives to see them more than a weight holding us down, but instead see them as opportunities raising us up. Then we can participate with God and His work to do the same for others.
So we can see that while it would be easier for God to zap everything and make it better, it really would not be better. Human participation is far more satisfying and, if you think about it, more sensical. Finally, it’s way God intended for us to experience the miraculous.