God and Creation
Miracles & The Laws of Nature
The word "miracle," as the Bible uses it, does not always refer to something "supernatural" - that is, a violation of the laws of nature. The word simply refers to an expression of power that goes beyond normal human capabilities. When God worked a miracle through one of the apostles or prophets, he could break the laws of nature (which he created), if he wanted. Or he could use them to accomplish his will - controlling the timing and circumstances surrounding the "miraculous" event, or even using the laws of nature in totally unexpected ways.
Jesus' miracles illustrate both of these types. When he walked on water, or fed the 5000, he was doing things that went against the laws of nature. On the other hand, when he told Peter to catch a fish and to look for a coin in its mouth, it could be explained by natural processes. (A person could accidentally drop a coin into the lake, the fish could try to eat it, the coin could get lodged in the back of the fish's mouth or in a gill, etc.)
Because of this, it doesn't really matter if we can "explain" some specific miracle by the laws of nature - it is still an expression of God's power.
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"Providence" refers to the way God directs and uses what happens in creation, to accomplish his purposes. God uses the "laws of nature" (which he created) and the events of this world to accomplish his will - and he often does so in unexpected ways. Even sin cannot thwart his purposes! Sin cannot cause the laws of nature to stop working.
How does God work? We cannot fully understand how God does this, but we can get a glimpse of what God is doing - as we observe what is happening in the world. The person who loves God will sometimes be able to recognize the good that God is accomplishing. However, most of it won't make sense to us, until after it is all accomplished, and the Day of Justice has come.
Our lives are like a piece of fine embroidery. On one side of the cloth, the threads look very random, with no sense or pattern. This is like life as we see it now. However, on the other side, there is design and beauty. This is like the way we will see things in the future. One thing we must remember, though: This promise is guaranteed only to those who love God (Romans 8:28). Those who reject God have no such guarantee.
Dennis Hinks © 2004