Just the Right Number of Miracles

I was dropping off some Christmas chocolates to a local business and someone commented, “I’m so glad you brought chocolate! We’ve been given so much popcorn this year we can’t take any more; but you can never have too much chocolate!” An enlightened sentiment, in my opinion. We all have our own tastes that dictate what is always welcome and what wearies us.

Miracles have happened throughout history, but never in doses sufficient to make us tire of them. They are concentrated around particular people or eras, and even when we think we have experienced one in our own time we are not satiated. As we read the Christmas story in Luke’s gospel, we do encounter miracles, most notably in the births of John and Jesus. The rest of the events fall more aptly under the heading of Providence:

The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.

JI Packer

Herod’s census is an example of Providence. There is nothing miraculous about it, but in God’s plan it brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem so that the prophecy of Micah might be fulfilled. God had been orchestrating these events for a long time and all the stars were lining up, literally. The heavens had been arranged that a particular star would rise at the right time and draw the Eastern Magi to the home of the new King, and their presents would in turn provide the means for Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt. Providence.

But if we’re being honest, we wouldn’t mind a few more miracles. Maybe Joseph had prayed for some miraculous turn of events that would save his betrothed a grueling journey to Bethlehem. Maybe Mary prayed for some miracle that would allow her to have the Holy Child in some place other than a feeding trough. Nevertheless, God only touches earth with the deft hand of an artist making almost imperceptible adjustments that, when taken together, turn the ordinary into a masterpiece.

If there was ever a time when we might expect God to heap miracle upon miracle it would be at this first Christmas. If there was ever a Person who was deserving of a parade of miracles it was Jesus Christ. The Christmas story has just the right number of miracles, as do our lives. We might not grow tired of them even if they multiplied like gifts under the tree. But I suspect that the miracles we desire would turn out to undo the wonderful plan that God is Providentially bringing to pass.

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