What Comes before the Miracle

At the tomb of Lazarus, after the stone had been rolled away in John 11:41, Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” It was only after that he called, “Lazarus, come forth.” And of course, the man who had been in the tomb four days emerged alive.

Jesus praised God before the miracle.

Another stunning Biblical example of this occurs in one of my favorite passages, 2 Chronicles 20, when Jehoshaphat rallied troops to face a vast army set to attack them. “Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God . . . they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, ‘Give thanks to God, His love never quits.’ As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir . . . “(2 Chronicles 21-22).

And that was that. The army was destroyed.

For years, I prayed for a royalty book contract. It’s tough in the publishing world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into an elevator at a writer’s conference and found someone in tears or looking like they had just been given a death sentence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there myself. When you’ve labored long on a work that is close to your heart, and then someone or multiple someone’s reject it, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially when the desire runs deep to touch the world through the words God has placed in your heart. Martin Luther said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen.” Some say only about two percent of books submitted are accepted, so how was that ever supposed to happen? I’d read these Biblical stories before, and I could apply them in so many ways, but did I dare praise God for what was so close to my heart? Had I really praised him for a contract?

In the margin of a devotion in Streams in the Desert, a book I’ve used for years, beside that John 11 scripture is written, “Praising God for the book contract.” I also wrote, “A new thought.”  The date noted was before I ever received my first royalty contract.

But a few months later, I did receive a contract. When I clicked on that email and read it, it certainly seemed miraculous, and I remembered my prayers of thanksgiving. But it also didn’t seem to have much to do with me, but mostly to do with God doing what only He can do.

If we could only remember thanksgiving every time a battle loomed. It is not a magical formula. But it’s a way to connect us to the One who knows the best for us. Perhaps the miracle is what he does in our hearts. A quote from Streams in the Desert, “Praise is really the most vital preparatory ministry to the working of the miracles.”

Ann Voskamp has written brilliantly about the transforming nature of thanksgiving over the years. In One Thousand Gifts, she pens, “Eucharisteo (Greek word for thanksgiving) always, always precedes the miracle. And who doesn’t need a miracle like that every day?”

I know I do. You, too?

I'm excited to announce that Grace Publishing has just released another volume in the Divine Moments series from which all the royalties are donated to Samaritan's purse. I receive no remuneration from my contributions.  Entitled, Can Sir, it is a collection of stories from writers who share God's strength in challenging times. It includes one of my favorite stories that I've ever written. Called "Dancing," it comes from my breast cancer journey and is a reminder of the joy God can bring despite difficult circumstances. This book was edited by the incomparable Yvonne Lehman who has now gone to be with the Lord as well as Terri Kalfas, the owner of Grace Publishing. 

Can Sir Here.




Most Viewed This Year