In a previous post we argued that a “trinary” approach to evaluating “pre-understood” natural events may help to create a bridge between “binary” supernature vs nature explanations of these events. In a trinary view, Nature (our rational experience and explanation of the event) is the middle ground between Supernature (the initiator of the event) and Revelation (information to us about the initiator of the event). In this view, even if a “miracle” is explained, it is not necessarily any less miraculous. In fact, a common physical malady, peripheral edema (ankle and leg swelling), illustrates that the explanation can actually confirm the miraculous.
Enter Nehemiah 9:20-21 where an innocuous comment brought these thoughts to mind. As the nation of Israel was rebuilding the protective walls of Jerusalem, they began to spiritually reflect on their history. In speaking of God’s faithfulness they state, “You (God) gave your good Spirit to instruct them. Your Mannah you did not withhold from their mouth [and they listened and ate]…Indeed forty years You (God) provided for them (Israel’s ancestors) in the wilderness and they were not in want…nor did their feet swell.” What causes endemic peripheral edema such that its cure rates mention centuries later? Long hours of labor, diets heavy in salt, and infectious cardiac and hepatic disease all could contribute to feet swelling in a people who were not willing to trust God’s guidelines for their dietary (Mannah and other dietary restrictions) or respite needs (Sabbath). At that time, the people had no way of making a connection between certain activities of life and peripheral edema. But in faith, they obeyed God’s guidelines and the edema went away. Faithful obedience (Nature) to God’s (Supernature) commands (Revelation) brought about physical healing (which in itself is empiric evidence for the reality and truth of Supernature and Revelation in this instance). While we can now also offer up molecular explanations to this phenomenon, faithful spiritual life effected benefits in this nation’s physical health. Faith itself was explanation for the miracle, 21st century cardio-renal physiology affords the mechanism. And in this instance it was “practical faith” in responding to what God had made clear to them that effected cure.