Is there such a thing as a minor miracle? Can a divine intervention be so unnoticeable that it’s seldom mentioned? If so, what makes the miracle minor? Is it the number of words printed that tells us the miracle happened? Is it a lack of media coverage or social media hits that we use as a yardstick?
Cyndi and I are germinating seeds for spring planting. So is the Asbury Farms team. So are people in most places where spring is near. By germinating seeds indoors, the plants have time to establish robust root systems and get a jump on a relatively short growing season.
Is a tiny tomato seed pushing its way toward light and eventually producing delicious fruit a miracle, or is it just a part of our everyday expectations? The plant depends on sufficient water and nutrients, so the strength of its root system makes a huge difference in the outcome. Similarly, how close the emerging plant is to a light source impacts the thickness of the plant’s primary trunk. These all require interventions to increase the plant’s chance of flourishing.
Perhaps miracles require participation from those who benefit the most from the outcome.
People took on the challenge when the City of Flint was forced to change our water source to save money. Rather than whine about the injustice of an outsider making such an important decision without involving the people, the city’s leadership and public water systems experts went to work to implement the change.
But the results were disastrous. Soon after the change of water source was made, years of corrosion entered our water as it made its way from the source to our homes, businesses, and churches. Sometimes it was apparent. The water was no longer clean and clear. But, most of the time, our water contained an invisible, deadly additive. Lead was leaching into our water and taking up residence in our bodies.
No one wanted harm to the residents and persons working in Flint. But when harm came, miracles started happening all around us. Residents banded together initially in responding to an emergency. Nearly one hundred thousand people needed clean, safe water for everyday use. But, none of us were sure whether the water coming into our homes, businesses, or churches was safe for human consumption.
Our miracles played out over time as thousands of minor miracles occurred daily. Today, although most of us remain understandably skeptical, the crisis is becoming part of our past. Nevertheless, the damage to bodies remains, and we hope for new miracles, both minor and significant.
We started our Thirsty series with a miracle done for the Prophet Elijah. An angel cared for his basic needs for food, water, and rest. Sometime later, after the Prophet Elijah passed, he left a legacy and a replacement named Elisha.
Before this happened, Elijah called on God to cause an extended drought. The draught responded to his ongoing conflict with king Ahab and queen Jezebel. The monarchy installed a new national religion based on gods other than Elohim. And Elijah warned them God would take away their rain until this changed. And a severe drought parched the land.
Even after the rains returned, there remained areas without safe water. One such city was Jericho. Even though there was plenty of fresh water, it was causing sickness, death, and miscarriages. Elisha was new in his position. His teacher and mentor passed on the torch to him, but he was unproven.
Never theless, Elisha instructs the city’s water caretakers to bring him a bowl of salt. Afterward, Elisha dumped the bowl of salt into the city’s well, saying, “The Lord has healed these waters.” And the well provided safe water from that point on.
A delegation of the city officials of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem,” they told him. “Our water is bad!”
2 Kings 2:19
This story is given a few sentences organized into a couple of paragraphs. That’s it! The story ends with, “And sure enough! The water was purified, just as Elisha had said.” The end!
There is no media coverage, and no one posted a video of this miracle. There were no committees or community help centers. At least not according to the story we find in scripture. As a result, very few, if any, of you likely know about this miracle. Does this make it a minor miracle?
The people of Jericho didn’t have a pediatrician noticing that children in her care were showing signs of a problem with lead in their water. Nor did any of them know the chemistry of their water. What they learned was what they observed. Residents and visitors were getting sick, and some died, including children. And a community full of promise was becoming a barren wasteland. The city could not survive without clean, safe water.
I’m betting their recovery took a generation or more, but it began with one miracle, and then another, and more following.
There is another story in scripture that takes place centuries later. A woman suffers from a condition that prevents her from realizing her potential. She didn’t know what was causing her condition, nor did the experts. But she knew the results and believed that Jesus had the power to heal her body.
Making her way through the crowds surrounding Jesus, the woman touches His outer garment and is instantly healed. Is there any such thing as a minor miracle? If so, this miracle might have gone unnoticed were it not for the awareness of Jesus. And were it not for the importance of telling the world that the Messiah had come.
The people of Jericho didn’t go to Elisha to hear a sermon or his report of the excellent news that Elijah’s mantel was passed on to him. They came in desperation. They were dying and believed that Elisha had access to the only power to save them. And to Elisha’s credit, he responded with what he knew how to do, even during his grief.
Jericho’s water was restored to health. With their basic need for water fixed, they could germinate seeds, plant, and harvest. And the woman who touched the garment of Jesus could get on with her life, all as a result of one miracle after another.
There are some weeks that I hope for the days to go by quickly. Over the years, I’ve missed witnessing a lot of miracles as a result. But the years have taught me that even when failures overshadow me, miracles are happening all around.
And my prayers more often include a plea for God to hold my attention so that I won’t miss the miracles. But, more importantly, my prayers extend to all the residents of Flint. Prayers that we won’t miss out on the miracles happening around us. Miracles that require our participation and intervention.
It will take a generation or more for Flint to recover. But all recoveries begin with hope, followed by cooperative participation. Do this and with God’s help we’ll make miracles together.
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Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by CleanWaterfortheWorld.org.
Content for this series is also based in part on:
Eric Nilsen. Understanding Social Justice. © Eric Nilsen, 2022. Independently published.