Miracles Are Coming
“I’m here to see _____,” I say to the nurse at the front entrance of the hospital. “Oh, are you the son?” Her smile is so bright it radiates through her mask. “No, the pastor,” I respond, expecting, well who knows what. Apathy? Disdain? Curiosity? Impossibly, her smile brightens even further. “Oh, the pastor,” she beams. “How lovely.” All of a sudden, she is very eager not only to let me through the screening desk as quickly as possible but to personally escort me to the person’s room. She has some things she wants to say, evidently.
“You know, I’m also a Christian,” she says as we make our way down the hall. “I know the person you’re visiting. Such a hard, sad story. Doesn’t seem to believe in miracles, though. I certainly do. I always tell people, ‘Get ready, because miracles are coming.’ I know they are. I see things in here that doctors can’t explain. And I know there are miracles coming. Do you believe in miracles, pastor?” I smile and say, “Yes, I believe in miracles. I might wish for a few more now and then, but I believe in them.” “Well, that’s great she responds. “Don’t you worry, like I said, miracles are coming. I can feel it.”
We’ve now long since walked past the room we were supposed to stop at, so we have to do some backtracking. But eventually I arrive at my destination and take my leave. “God bless!” she says as she breezes down the hall. I look over at the person I’ve come to visit. Another broken body ravaged by time and disease. Another mind wearied by long and undignified suffering. Another clock running down. Another treasured human soul that could surely use a miracle.
We sit. We talk. We go outside into a fenced off patch of concrete to steal a few rays of sun. We pray. I ask for courage in the face of suffering, for the hope of glory, for patient endurance in the face of what seem like nearly impossible conditions. These seem like enough miracles to ask for one day. I’ve prayed for miraculous healings before—for this person and for many others. But today the words seem to stick in my throat. If the nurse is so confident that miracles are coming, I surely can’t stand in their way, right?
I have encountered many people over the years who believe (or claim to believe) that miracles are always about to be unleashed on the world, that all God is waiting for is for us to get things right on our end. I get why people are drawn to it. Wouldn’t it be great if the right prayers spoken in the right ways at the right time with the right levels of piety and intensity reliably led to healings? And I get that there’s a certain kind of biblical hermeneutic operating in the background, some kind of an idea that because healings are in the bible they’re on the drop-down menu of experiential options, as it were.
But in the end, of course, we all die. At best, miraculous healings just push the inevitable off a bit longer. Even Lazarus, dragged out of his smelly tomb, only got a few more miles added to the odometer. In the end, we are really all hoping for one miracle, the same miracle, which is an utterly new and redeemed creation. A new order of reality where people don’t have to waste away in lonely hospital rooms with terrible food and shit-encrusted bed sheets and endlessly beeping and bleating monitors and sterile interactions with healthcare professionals, where bodies work and neurons don’t war against each other, where the clock isn’t always ticking. A mode of existence where God dwells among the people, where he will wipe every tear from their eyes, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Yes, I believe in this miracle.
The nurse was by the front door as I walked out into the summer sun. “Have a good day,” I anemically offered on my way by, mostly because I didn’t know what else to say and I didn’t want another twenty-minute conversation about miracles. “I’m already in it,” she beamed. I must have looked confused because she eagerly elaborated: “Whenever someone tells me to have a good day, that’s what I say. I say, ‘I’m already in a good day because God made it and because God is good.’” I thought back to the person I had just sat with. I wondered if they would say it was a good day because God made it and because God is good.
But then I remembered that I believe that miracles are coming. So, I just said, “Amen.”