The very first miracle that Jesus did wasn’t a big spectacular thing to heal someone, or to raise someone from the dead.
It was to turn water into wine at a wedding in the town of Cana (John 2).
His mother asked Him to do it, and surprisingly it wasn’t something He did immediately when she asked Him to help. He didn’t just snap His fingers and produce wine right then and there.
This is usually what we’re looking for when we ask the Lord for help, isn’t it? We ask of God and then we want Him to answer immediately in a miraculous, instant way. This is how we would have it all the time.
But that’s not the Lord’s way.
Here, when Jesus turned the water into wine, He told the servants to fill up water into the pots (John 2:6-7). It was A LOT of water into the pots. 20 or 30 Gallons per pot. And there were 6 of these huge pots - so 120-180 gallons total.
Have you ever considered all of the hard work the servants had to do before the miracle came? They didn’t have hoses flowing with water back then. Imagine taking an empty gallon-sized jug (the size of a gallon of milk) and dunking it down into a river, filling it up, and carrying it to pour it into a big 20-30 gallon garbage bin-sized container. Until you’ve filled 6 of those bins. So you need to fill that gallon jug, carry and pour it, around, about 150 times!
Of all the miracles Jesus did, this was His first miracle, and it’s amazing that for this He asked so much of people to be part of the work. The One who flooded the earth (and could have filled the buckets Himself with a word), asked these servants to do this work of service first.
But then after that, the great miracle came - the most pure, and best wine that has ever existed.
Jesus didn’t make the wine from nothing - He made it from two things: water, and faithful, persistent obedience. Water which already existed, mixed with the persistent obedience of the servants.
Looking at this story and considering that part of it filled me with hope, and I’ll explain why:
We are all looking to the Lord to do great works in some area. (The Bible says “With difficulty the righteous are saved” (1 Pet 4:18) - so I believe we are all right now looking to the Lord to do some work in some particular difficult area).
God showed me the principle through this: these servants worked hard and long, carrying water and spilling it, maybe straining themselves - but the miracle came ONLY AFTER all of that. The work which I’m looking to God for, usually comes after a period of perseverance, obedience, some suffering and many times with mistakes too.
If it feels that the straining and crying to God is there, and the labor is long, but we are still pressing on under God's hand (submitting to His commands, His ways, His timing) - that’s a sign we are on the right track for God to do a great work.
So this picture in my mind of the miracle after the hard work challenged me to press on. The work is hard and may be long but God’s great provision is coming.
When we ask something of the Lord to do some miracle or some work, to turn water into wine into some area of our life - there may be a period of deep diligent pressing on that He asks from us - for example praying consistently for a long time. Or it could be denying our self in some area which is painful for a long time before He does the miracle; resisting Satan, resisting sin. Don’t get discouraged just because He doesn’t do the miracle right away. Be faithful in the meantime and He will provide - He will do it.
Great faith is to God what large diamonds are to men - very rare, but also very precious. I believe that even among Christians, most people stop filling up the buckets half way or less. And so they never see the results of full buckets. They never see wine because they stopped early.
But the servants who will get the wine are the ones who say, "I don't know what He's going to do, but I trust Him. I will keep obeying and filling the pots."
Probably nobody at the wedding noticed these lowly servants carrying ordinary water for all that time, probably unseen, maybe in the back room. The onlookers had no idea what God was doing to set up that miracle.
Be one of those lowly servants who presses on for years or decades, content even if no one sees or notices except for God, and like the wine which no one had ever tasted before - the outcome of your faith and perseverance will be more precious than any you could have imagined. And it says that after the miracle - God manifested His glory, and others believed (John 2:11) through this. Your quiet, load-bearing diligence and obedience is the sign you are on the right path to this, to be part of this work. Press on!