I had a thought today about society’s feelings towards the idea of miracles. I also recently watched a television program that discussed the topic. In this program an interesting question was posed: “What is a miracle?” How do we, as a society, define miracles? Many (or most) religions are centered around figures that performed miraculous ‘acts’; Jesus walked on water and Moses parted the Red Sea. But is this how we define a miracle? Webster defines a miracle as “a very amazing or unusual event, thing, or achievement.” Even though this encapsulates the acts of Jesus and Moses; are miracles solely limited to acts such as these? I am reminded of a fact we are taught in medicine, most lung cancers are due to smoking, but most smokers do not get lung cancer. The idea is the same with these miracles: these acts by prophets are miracles, but not all miracles are performed by prophets. Delving even a layer deeper, as I asked of you in the beginning of this piece, what defines a miracle? I believe that miracles happen to us every day. When you open your eyes after waking, or hear the birds singing their song; to me this is a miracle.
Why ask this question? As a society we value these miraculous events as a sign of intervention from God. Many religions are based on these events; thus the importance of exploring this topic further is paramount to an understanding of religion and our society as a whole. But are we limiting ourselves when we define miracles like this? To me, after studying the human body, every single heartbeat, every breath we take is “an amazing event, thing or achievement.” Instead of looking in obscure places for these events, I think we need not look further than our daily lives for examples of personal miracles, and events for which we feel grateful and in awe.
As I said earlier, in my studies of the human body, how every cell in our body serves a function of our existence is a miracle to me. But this definition is not only limited to human physiology. Several years ago I contacted the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society hoping to become a member. Instead, I came into contact with Linda Frevert and Fay Powell; not only did they graciously allow me to become a member, but they also asked that I write a column for the group. To me, countless numbers of personal miracles occurred with this: firstly, allowing me to be part of this group with all of your amazing stories has been surreal. Next, allowing me to share my thoughts with you has been an incredible experience. These are my personal miracles, and I feel truly blessed.
Please do not misconstrue my words, I am by no means trying to degrade or put these acts into question – endless literature and theologians focus on this; I am simply questioning our definition of the word. What I am questioning is the limitation we produce when we define miracles as some magical act. To me, miracles are more common than we believe. Divine intervention still always has a hand in its occurrence.