A cancer memoir about a life sustained by improbable events
What’s a miracle? How can we (frail human creatures that we are!) separate contingency—what’s possible but unpredictable, an event that seems unlikely or unintended—from miracle?
And what would happen if we didn't?
The difference between sickness and health depends on the strength of the love at work. It wasn't until I met Mark that I began to understand this.
In the fifth row first seat there was a slight boy named Matthew. He could not sit still under any circumstances whatsoever.
Jesus and Elisha perform great miracles. What do we modern westerners do with this? It’s possible you come from a church background in which the obvious takeaway is to pray for God to do the same thing in our lives here and now. Or maybe you believe such events are still possible, but less probable. In any case, most of us preachers want to avoid suggesting that the difference between then and now is our lack of faith.
The Bible is full of strange things—oil cruets and flour containers that never become empty and young bodies that are restored to life at a word from Jesus. Are we supposed to believe that these things happened? Maybe the ancient peoples did, but we moderns suffer under the curse of Bultmann’s lightbulb: we know why the light switches on. We are cursed by rationalities that prevent us from seeing the Bible as one overarching story in which our own lives play a key role.
There is an odd reticence about the healings in the lessons for this Sunday—there’s an expectation of big-bang pyrotechnics, followed by a matter-of-factness in the healings that seems to disappoint. The haughty Naaman is downright offended by the simplicity of Elisha’s prescription for curing his leprosy. I thought he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place . . . But nothing that glamorous is planned.