The Old Testament is filled with God’s miracle-working power, from the opening of the Red Sea, to God speaking to Moses from the burning bush, to Elijah calling down fire from heaven. All these were instantaneous miracles. The people involved could see them happening, feel them and thrill to them. And they are the kinds of miracles we want to see today, causing awe and wonder. We want God to rend the heavens, come down to our situation and fix things in a burst of heavenly power.
But much of God’s wonder-working power in his people’s lives comes in what are called “progressive miracles.” These are miracles that are hardly discernable to the eye. They’re not accompanied by thunder, lightning or any visible movement or change. Rather, progressive miracles start quietly, without fanfare, and unfold slowly but surely, one step at a time.
Both kinds of miracles—instantaneous and progressive—were witnessed at Christ’s two feedings of the multitudes. The healings he performed were immediate, visible, easily discerned by those present on those days. I think of the crippled man with a gnarled body, who suddenly had an outward, physical change so that he could run and leap. Here was a miracle that had to astonish and move all who saw it.
Yet the feedings that Christ did were progressive miracles. Jesus offered up a simple prayer of blessing, with no fire, thunder or earthquake. He merely broke the bread and the dried fish, never giving a sign or sound that a miracle was taking place. Yet, to feed that many people, there had to be thousands of breakings of that bread and those fish, all through the day. And every single piece of bread and fish was a part of the miracle.
This is how Jesus performs many of his miracles in his people’s lives today. We pray for instantaneous, visible wonders, but often our Lord is quietly at work, forming a miracle for us piece by piece, bit by bit. We may not be able to hear it or touch it, but he is at work, shaping our deliverance beyond what we can see.