God’s miracles can take shape in everyday life
Written by Marina Hofman
“You are the most wonderful person in the world!
Your smile is wonderful;
Your cheeks are wonderful;
Your hands are wonderful.
You are full of wonder!
You are wonder-full!”
My daughter played her singing birthday card repeatedly for weeks. The jingle cleverly highlights the beauty of the ordinary.
God’s word also captures the beauty of the ordinary. Consider how the story of the midwives in Exodus 1 captures the wonder of a miracle that is accomplished through the everyday.
The midwives are at the centre of the narrative. They’re given a choice: obey the king’s order and live or risk their lives by refusing to comply. The king of Egypt had issued a command for them to kill all newborn Hebrew males. He is afraid because God keeps blessing the Israelites with fertility despite the oppression and slavery the king has forced on them.
The profession of the midwives is to bring life—to ensure the safe delivery of babies into the world. To honour the king would go against everything these midwives stand for. So they devise a clever way to deceive the king and carry on their life-giving mission. The midwives tell him the Hebrew mothers give birth and go on their way before the midwives arrive to help them.
The result is miraculous—the boys live, the midwives save their own lives, and the king is made to look like a fool for believing the midwives.
It is a story of wonder in the ordinary because, while the midwives exhibit incredible courage to defy the king, this miracle of salvation is accomplished by the midwives simply doing their daily jobs. Their profession is to help women deliver babies, and they remained committed to that vocation.
As a result, we have the extraordinary miracle of God saving a whole generation. What an appropriate beginning to a book filled with miracles. The chronology of Moses’ leadership of Israel and the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt begins with the actions of two women who exhibit incredible courage.
Is it possible God is writing an extraordinary story through our many ordinary acts, too? Where is the wonder in our lives?
In my life, the miraculous always comes about through the ordinary deeds of others. The most dramatic example of this was after my husband and I were in a high-speed car wreck. God worked a very real miracle to save and preserve my life.
The firefighter in the vehicle in front of me who prevented me from moving as I quickly turned septic. The EMT worker who kept assuring me I was going to be OK as we drove to the hospital. The surgeon who instinctively knew I had only minutes to live and performed emergency surgery.
The ICU nurse who remained with me for several days, giving me the ministry of presence I desperately needed. My husband’s sister who tirelessly cared for me as my husband remained in the hospital. The many rehabilitation specialists who helped me regain my mental and psychological capacities. And then my students, who gave me endless compassion when I stuttered or forgot details in class.
All of my caregivers would say they were simply doing their jobs. My friends, family, and students would tell you they merely showed the kindness Christ calls us to. Yet through their commonplace efforts, I experienced one miracle after another on the day of the crash and in the years that followed. To me, their acts were anything but ordinary.
With Christmas approaching, I think of wonder in the Christmas story and the faithfulness of Mary. As she carried out the mundane tasks of motherhood, she was fulfilling her mission to raise Jesus in righteousness and communion with God. Again, we have an example of someone who responds to God’s call with great courage. Her obedience to God’s call is accomplished by ordinary acts.
As a mother, I watch my little daughter, Willow, grow to know God through my daily effort to be Christ to her. As a teacher, I witness the power of God transform the lives of students as I simply share my testimony. These are wonder-filled triumphs that God brings about through the everyday tasks required by parenting and my career.
The prophet Zechariah reminds us not to despise the small things. It’s not by power or might, but by God’s Spirit that God’s plan is accomplished (Zechariah 4:6-10). These are words to live by.
We seek the wonder-full things of God for our lives and our loved ones. My daughter’s birthday poem is a lovely reminder that wonder can be wrought in small, humble gifts, like hands and smiles. As for the deepest desires of our hearts, it may be that God is working through the small things of everyday life to answer our prayers!
Marina Hofman, PhD, is a Bible scholar, speaker, and author of Women in the Bible Small Group Bible Study and video series at womeninthebible.info.