A google search for the phrase “Miracle on the Hudson” finds links to that title at all the major news outlets. All of a sudden the secular media has seen fit to acknowledge the supernatural. I’m sure that the writers of these articles use “miracle” more as a synonym for amazing and incredible than they do for supernatural. But I think the title “Miracle on the Hudson” points out an error made all too often by those who ought to know better.
Perhaps some will think I’m arguing over semantics but I don’t think what happened on the Hudson River on Thursday afternoon was a miracle. God did not supernaturally intervene in the natural order of the world to stop that plane crash from killing many if not all of the passengers. In the bible when God performs a miracle it is clearly a miracle. The dead become alive. The blind see. Water parts leaving dry land in the middle. The storm subsides and men walk on water. These are all things that only God can do. God alone can interrupt the normal patterns of the world that He has established and when He does it He does it clearly and for His purposes.
Don’t think that I am denying God’s involvement in the events of last Thursday afternoon. I believe God was intimately involved in bringing those passengers home safely. I believe God acted providentially and not miraculously. I believe that rather than being the primary agent bursting onto the scene to save that flight God acted through the skill of the pilot, the weather, the water, the ferry boats and the Coast Guard who came to the rescue and a myriad of other normal means. And the fact that God so acted so that everyone on board would be rescued is no less amazing than if He had by means of a visible arm reached out and guided the airplane to safety.
I think the amazing doctrine of God’s providence gets ignored these days as many Christians try to identify miracles everywhere. And yet we live in a time when God is working providentially rather than miraculously. God works in ways that aren’t obvious without the eyes of faith. The world can look at the events of last Thursday and ascribe them to the work of a skillful pilot or even just plain good luck. The Christian looks at those events and sees God’s hand all over the place.
And one more thing, had God in His sovereignty decided that things on Thursday would end differently, His providential actions would have been no less impressive. Under no circumstances would that plane have been out of God’s control regardless of the outcome.