Part IV – Post-Miracle Hangover
If you’ve been kind enough to endure parts one, two, and three of this series, welcome to the fourth and final installment. I hope that my year of processing has been somewhat helpful, or at least thought-provoking, regarding this impossible-to-fully-understand topic. So far we’ve covered a brief study on the kinds of miracles we might encounter, both Expected and Unexpected, and in my last post I unpacked that window of time that often takes place right before a big move of God, where our faith and patience is tested on a different level – the Pre-Miracle Tension. To wrap things up, I’d like to share about one other major piece I had my eyes opened to last year as my family and I walked through several faith steps and got to experience God move in very personal ways. Unlike the Pre-Miracle Tension, this one takes place in the weeks and months following a supernatural breakthrough. I call it the Post-Miracle Hangover.
After just about any major life event, good or bad, there is a season when we have to process through what just happened. The birth of a baby, the death of a loved one, a big move, a wedding, a job change, etc . . . These things all have a trickle effect on every area of our lives and it takes time to get used to a new normal. Each day is full of questions, challenges, and victories.
I think it’s safe to say that any miraculous act of God in our lives can be categorized as a major live event. Sometimes there’s a big build-up with lots of anticipation, while other times it comes out of nowhere and surprises us. Either way though, there’s always a “before the miracle” and an “after the miracle” that marks time for us, and that time following it can get tricky if our hearts and minds are not prepared. It’s easy for us to put our guard down after a big breakthrough because it feels like that should be the big ending we’ve been waiting and praying for. But in most cases, that is just the beginning of a new season with its own set of struggles, attacks, and mountains to climb.
Take the Israelites for example. In the book of Exodus we read their story of deliverance from the hand of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Talk about seeing the Lord show off His power. Over and over and over again He displayed that power and the Israelites got a front row seat to it all. But there’s one miracle in particular I want to home in on today, because we get to see this entire miracle process we’ve been talking about play out from beginning to end. We find it in Exodus 14. By this point Pharaoh has told Moses and his people to leave, they’ve gathered all their belongings and have begun their journey out of captivity . . . all with a cloud and fire escort, mind you . . . and after another hardening of his heart, Pharaoh has done a complete 180 and decided he wants his servants back. So he gathers his troops and sets out to reclaim the Israelites. In verse 10 we see the Pre-Miracle Tension set in.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” – Exodus 14:10-12
They are a hot mess! Never mind the fact that a literal, physical manifestation of God Almighty has been hovering in front of them this entire time. And yet, when faced with what seemed like an impossible situation, they start freaking out and wishing they’d never left Egypt. Did they need a miracle . . . like right now? Absolutely! But instead of fixing their eyes on their Deliverer and trusting He was going to take care of it, they start grumbling at Moses and convince themselves they made a mistake. I mean, if I were God, this is the point when I’d pack up my things and be like, “Bye Felicia!” But instead (don’t you love a good “but instead”?), in His kindness, He speaks through the mouth of Moses some of my favorite words in all of scripture.
“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” – Exodus 14:13-14
And fight He did! What a show that must have been to behold! I won’t even try to paraphrase it. Let’s just read it together because it doesn’t get much better than this.
“Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” – Exodus 14:19-22
That moment when the Lord shifts from valiant leader to fierce protector . . . I can almost hear the swell of the orchestra as He swoops up from the front and plants Himself between His people and the enemy coming after them. And that wasn’t even the end. He goes on to PART THE FLIPPING SEA! I would have felt so ridiculous at this point if I had been an Israelite. Nevertheless, they march themselves across the Red Sea and we all know how the rest of that story goes.
Fast forward a few days and a couple chapters. They are officially out from under the threat of the Egyptians and have begun their journey to the land God promised them. We also see the Post-Miracle Hangover begin to take shape. Food and water are somewhat scarce and the grumbling is starting up again. Already, they are questioning if it might have just been easier to stay in Egypt because at least there they had plenty of food and shelter. The enemy was having a hay-day toying with their minds, causing them to doubt God’s promises and provision. Even when the Lord was providing manna and quail for them each day, they didn’t quite fully believe that it would be there the next day and would hold some back, or would go searching on the Sabbath even though God had made it clear that it would not be there. But He was faithful to gently, but firmly, walk them through this season to learn to trust Him on a deeper level. Some of the lessons came easily and others were incredibly difficult, but through their trusting they got to see the Lord do signs and wonders that would put our grandest tales to shame.
This uncomfortable process has played out in my life several times since our move to Tennessee. I had somehow convinced myself that once we had taken that big step of faith to relocate our family and experienced His miraculous hand in all of it, things would just begin happening for us. Well they didn’t. In fact, for a while after our move it felt like God had gone completely dark. Where there was once constant activity, there was total silence. It lasted a good 5 months and it was terrifying for me. Suddenly these Israelites I had practically mocked for their lack of trust felt like kindred spirits.
“How could He pulled my family out of a perfectly good situation only to leave us high and dry?”
“Why would He let us fall through the cracks after working so hard to get us here?”
But over and over the Lord would bring to mind those words He gave to Moses . . . “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” He would remind me that all those thoughts of doubt and questioning come from one place and that they are intended only to distract and derail the work He has done. I had mistaken His silence for abandonment and His inactivity for disinterest. Over time I realized that this season, while pruning, is meant to be a time to relish in and savor what the Lord has done, remember and process the work He did in me through it all, and begin leveraging that growth for the next chapter in the story. And as it goes with any spiritual growth spurt, Satan goes into hyper-mode and tries to undo as much as he can by tempting you to doubt and question. The sooner he can get you doing that, the better . . . so how do we counter these schemes? We prepare, just like we would for any other spiritual battle.
Guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), rejoice-pray-give thanks-repeat (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and believe God for even bigger things (Matthew 7:7-11).
The Post-Miracle Hangover doesn’t have to be a beating. It can be just as glorious and gratifying as the miracle itself if go into with eyes open and hearts ready. After all, that is the “other side” that the Lord was working to get you to. Why on earth would He choose then to start failing you?
Have you ever experienced this Post-Miracle Hangover? What steps did you take to power through it and maintain your spiritual momentum? Share with us . . .