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By President Randall A. Bach

God performs instantaneous, unexpected, independent-of-medicine, independent-of-resources, and even without-anyone-exercising-faith miracles. They are sovereign works of the Lord that are so clearly of and by Him that no one and no thing can share in the credit. He alone created, restored, removed, or altered something that is stunningly beyond any other source or power to cause or replicate.

There are other miracles that are cooperative miracles – when God exercises His power, but it is elicited, invited, or preceded by the obedience and faith of someone. It is a cooperative miracle because God responds to the faith-filled resolve or actions of people.

Naaman, an army commander, suffered from leprosy (2 Kings 5). At the encouragement of others, he sought out help which ultimately led him to the prophet Elisha. Naaman approached Elisha with expectations: a wave of Elisha’s hand, a prayer to the Lord, something simple and decisive and Naaman would be on his way, healed. He had an army commander’s drive – get it done, now! Instead of a grandiose gesture, Elisha simply told Naaman to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed.

Furious because Elisha’s directive violated his expectations, Naaman stormed away in a rage, and he was not healed. Naaman needed a miracle, but it had to be a cooperative miracle. Naaman would have to obediently do his part. After coaxing from his men, Naaman relented, went to the Jordan River, dipped himself in it seven times, and sure enough, “his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child” (verse 14).

I do not understand why God sometimes performs the instantaneous kinds of miracles and at other times performs cooperative miracles. I do know that if I need a miracle and there is any possibility that my obedience will make a difference, I am going to be obedient!

Do you need a miracle? Perhaps a cooperative one dependent on your being obedient to His Word and exercising faith? Cooperation with God requires resolve, determination, and inner strength, perhaps beyond our apparent inner reserves. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he told them about how he prayed for them, for God’s “glorious, unlimited resources” to empower them with inner strength and this through the Holy Spirit. Do you realize what that means? When you are a candidate for a cooperative miracle, the Lord does more than respond to your cry; He also resources you for your cooperative role! When you want to protest to Him, “I can’t!” He responds, “I will help you!” You do not have to go it alone in cooperating with God.

Naaman did not limit his obedience to one or two dips. If he had stopped then, there would not have been a miracle. Rather he was fully cooperative with seven dips in the river. Yes, there is much I do not understand about how God works, but this I do know: our part is to remain faithful, pursue Him, and be completely cooperative with the Lord, asking for and allowing His strength to help. You are not alone.

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 46 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.