Small MiraclesJuly 1, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
we will proclaim your praise.” — Psalm 79:13
Miracles are hard to come by.
Or so we imagine. After all, we usually think when something miraculous happens, it will make the newspaper headlines and be the top story on the evening news: A plane manages to land safely even after an engine went out; a terminally ill patient makes a stunning recovery even after doctors had given that patient up for dead.
When we think of miracles, we think of stories like these. And upon hearing these stories, the natural reaction for those who trust in God is, and should be, to acknowledge God’s kindness.
In Jewish tradition, a miracle like the miracles described above is known as a nes nigleh (a blatant miracle). Jewish thinkers contrast this with another type of miracle known as a nes nistar (a concealed miracle).
And while many passages in Scripture record an outpouring of praise to God in response to a nes nigleh, this passage from Psalm 79 does not. Instead, the praise that the psalmist promises to offer for generations to come is inspired by the simple observation that we are God’s people, and that He constantly sustains us.
In other words, in this passage, we give thanks to God because of the nisim nistarim (plural) He provides for us on a daily basis, by granting us life and allowing us to serve Him. And it is this gratitude for the small things in life that represents the highest level of spiritual achievement.
This is a lesson that frequently gets lost in the modern world of sensationalist news coverage. We think miracles should be preceded by a bang, or thunder and lightning. And of course, when we do see miracles like this – nisim niglim (plural) – we may even remember to thank God for His incredible graciousness.
But often we lose sight of the fact that small miracles – nisim nistarim – take place constantly. The very fact that our complex human body arises every morning and functions properly is thanks to God. Our ability to think critically and our desire to answer the great questions of existence – the most wonderful qualities that are characteristic of our humanity – are due to God’s wisdom in creating man in His image.
A million or more small miracles occur every day, and the psalmist reminds us that we should always remember that these miracles – just like the big miracles – come straight from God.
What small miracles have taken place in your life today?