Do you ever find yourself frustrated by the fact that you don’t see miracles happening in your local church on the level they did in the NT? Next to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, my strongest longing in Bible college was to experience, and be used in the supernatural. I wanted to see the same miracles I read about in the NT performed in my midst as well. More specifically, I wanted to be the vessel the Lord used to work those miracles. I prayed every day for this. I believed God would do it. I fasted in faith to see the breakthrough. It never happened.

Yeah, there were little things that happened here and there, but nothing major, and nothing consistent. It frustrated me to no end. What was wrong with me? What was wrong with everyone else for that matter? After all, I wasn’t the only one praying in faith to be a vessel of God in this area, and failing to see results. My intellectual and existential struggle with this reached crisis proportions by the end of my junior year, causing me to seriously reconsider the Christian faith. After all, if the God of the Bible is a miracle worker, and the Bible promises that those same miracles will follow those who believe—and yet they weren’t—then maybe there’s something wrong with this whole Christianity thing.

Of course, I understood from passages such as I Cor 12 that while God can work through any believer to perform any miracle at any time, there are some in the body who are specifically gifted in those areas, and thus we should expect to see the miraculous being exhibited more frequently in their lives than in others’. But this did not alleviate my frustration, because other passages in Scripture seemed to indicate that at least some of the miraculous should be exhibited in the lives of all believers.

After several years of frustration and thinking on the topic, I came to the following conclusion: I had false expectations about the miraculous. While defending his apostleship against those who challenged it Paul said, “Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds.” According to Paul the signs and wonders he performed proved that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ. We tend to read the exploits of Paul in the Book of Acts and come away with the impression that every Christian can do exactly what Paul did, but this fails to take into consideration Paul’s unique office in the body of Christ. If every Christian performed the miraculous just like Paul, how would the miraculous have been a distinct confirmation of his apostleship? Not everyone is an apostle. Apostles have the unique ability to work miracles—many and great miracles—that other believers do not have. This does not mean that non-apostles will not work any miracles, but it does mean that they may be less notable, and clearly not as frequent. We should not expect to be used in the miraculous on the same level as what we read about in Scripture.

We also have to have the proper perspective on the frequency of the miraculous even in Scripture. While a lot of miraculous things are recorded in Acts we have to remember that they were spread out over a period of about 30 years. Now it certainly might be the case that there were a lot more miracles that took place during that period of time that just weren’t recorded, but we should not get the idea that these miracles in Acts were occurring every day.

Do I say all of this to say that we should not be looking for the miraculous? No, God is still in the miracle-working business. We just need to manage our expectations, not expecting that the signs of an apostle be wrought by those who are not apostles.