Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
How long does it take for God to do a miracle? In some ways, that’s a trick question. He made the entire universe in just six days, so He certainly has no trouble doing things quickly. The Bible also describes many of the Lord’s supernatural interventions as happening “suddenly,” and Jesus typically healed people’s long-standing medical conditions “immediately.”
However, while it’s good to know that God can give us instantaneous, sudden, supernatural breakthroughs, that’s not always how things work out. For example, one of my favorite Bible verses illustrates a different kind of miracle: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).
Rather than being immediate, this other kind of miracle involves a process, and Paul aptly describes this in terms of sowing and reaping. As any farmer knows, seeds inevitably take some time to grow. Even though the farmer’s eventual harvest could be deemed a “miracle,” he must patiently wait in order to see it happen.
Paul adds an important warning to those of us who don’t receive our breakthrough as quickly as we would like: Don’t lose heart and give up!
Let me share a recent illustration from my own life. I truly feel like God did a miracle of sorts for me…but it was a miracle 25 years in the making.
A few days ago, I received the first copy of a new book I’ve written: The Church Split Cure: How to Prevent, Survive, or Recover from Congregational Conflict. I write lots of books, so this may not sound like any kind of miracle to you. But let me explain the context…
When I held the first copy of this book in my hand, I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God. Suddenly I realized (yes, suddenly…) that exactly 25 years ago I was a pastor in Ohio, undergoing a church split that would eventually cause more than half of our congregation to leave. Still to this day, it was one of the worst ordeals of my life. Long-time friends no longer trusted me. Some blamed me for the split, and it was heartbreaking to know that people I loved now considered me an enemy.
If you asked me at the time, I would have adamantly told you that nothing good—absolutely nothing—could come out of this painful and bewildering situation. Hundreds of people were hurt and disillusioned to one degree or another, and some of the greatest agony was suffered by my own family.
So, until recently, I would have said the devil won a great victory 25 years ago. The “accuser of the brethren” had his way in our church, and we all experienced a devastating defeat.
But God revised my perspective as I held that copy of The Church Split Cure in my hands. Although I still hate how the enemy divided our church, once again I can testify that God is able to redeem even the most traumatic circumstances and turn them around for good.
You see, through the anguish I experienced during that horrible church split, a seed was sown in my life that would ultimately sprout 25 years later in the form of this book. The insights contained in my book were gained “the hard way,” and I believe God will use them to help thousands of pastors and parishioners who are dealing with church conflict today.
Paul told the Corinthians he was able to impart “life” to them because of the “death” he had experienced through life’s crushing circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:12). If you’ve gone through some distressing experiences, keep Paul’s words in mind. Your pain can bring great gain to the lives of others who now can benefit from the lessons you’ve learned and the healing you’ve received (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).
What kind of miracle is God working in your life today? I hope it doesn’t take 25 more years for you to find out. But no matter how long the harvest takes, you can be sure it will be worth it all. Someday you’ll be more convinced than ever of the amazing truth Paul finally discovered:
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Yes, you read that right. Paul declared that ALL things can be turned around for your good and the fulfillment of God’s great purposes. That’s wonderful news, isn’t it?