I did not always believe in miracles. I did not believe in miracles because of what I saw and life experiences. Stories told at church from people returning from mission trips mostly seemed exaggerated to me. Visiting evangelists would make claims of blind receiving site and lame people walking. Occasionally a speaker would talk about a dead person raised back to life or demons being cast out. One thing that caused me to doubt was that the miracles always happened in a faraway country or a distant city. Before internet became readily available it was nearly impossible to verify any of these claims with first-hand witnesses. I had not witnessed the same type of miracles that were being talked about. For instance some would have a pain healed or find peace in a circumstance but I did not see anyone leave their wheel chair at the altar. Another observation I made was that the stories of miracles seemed to tie in with the offering plate. Too often visiting speakers would tell incredible stories of distant needs and try to convince all who were listening that God needed our money to heal others. For a poor boy who grew into a working man who struggled to meet the financial needs of raising three children, asking me for money was not a faith builder!
Don’t get me wrong I have always believed in the blessing of healing. Every person who receives Christ is blessed with a healed soul. It is daily that many are blessed with physical healing through medical treatment. What I doubted was true miracles. I questioned and reasoned that maybe the days of miracles has passed. At the very least maybe miracles don’t happen in “educated” societies where faith has been replaced by intellect. I recall Jesus could not do many miracles in his home town because of their lack of faith (Mark 6:1-6). As I sought out miracles a type of theory developed in my mind. The understanding of how God worked seemed logical and practical to me. It made it easy for me to pray for people because of the logic of my thoughts. Many times I prayed for people with a belief that God could heal them and in my mind I assumed He would use either science or nature to accomplish the healing. To look for miracles seemed too much like religiosity. All my self-made theology on healing and miracles could not hold up to experiences God allowed me to have.
The following accounts may be easier to understand if you know a couple of things about me. One oddity about me is the ability to remain calm in a crisis situation. This has been a helpful trait many times. Unfortunately when others panic around me it is very annoying. I have a good amount of first-aid training but am not a medically trained professional.
One event that changed my thoughts about miracles happened in a church in Aurora, ILL. It was the last night of a Christmas stage production. Our theater was also the church sanctuary. All of us who performed in the play were busy putting away props and cleaning up and resetting the room for Sunday service. There was as many as thirty people in the room many of them teenagers. Our drama director was vacuuming the stage when his feet got tangled in the cord and he fell head first. Many of us in the room witnessed the accident. Brian, the drama director, is a heavy-set man. The stage was about four feet high and he came down head first. He landed on his hands and struck the floor with his face.
In Brian’s own words “I remember falling and thinking ‘boy am I going to look stupid.’ I intended to stand up and laugh it off. When I tried to get up I felt a terrible pain and I realized I managed to break both arms and I just rolled over on my back. As I looked up there was Chuck (one of the actors) looking down at me from the stage.”
Most of the details that happened next have been lost in memory as this happened nine years ago (2006). What others confirmed is my take action mode kicked in. Several people simultaneously panicked having witnessed the fall. As I rushed to the stage I hollered to the others “I don’t need a room of panicky people.” Immediately it was clear I was in charge of the situation. First responder training teaches to eliminate potential hazards before attending to victims. The hazard at this scene was the vacuum cleaner lying next to Brian was still running. I pulled the plug and ordered for someone to call 911. A leader in the church by the name of Leroy asked if he should take people to a room and pray. I said please do, go and pray. In my mind all hazards were now clear, no running machine and no highly emotional people in the room. A quick examination indicated multiple injuries. Both arms were clearly broken with bone out of position. Both wrists looked injured. A bloody nose and a pronounced mark on the forehead from striking the floor. It was a reasonable concern that his neck could have been injured. My primary concern was keeping Brian calm as we waited for the ambulance. Several minutes passed and they always seem longer in an emergency. Someone came to me and told me when the paramedics arrived. I looked up and gave instruction to tell them the victim had two broken arms and possibly a neck injury, and to come in prepared. When I looked back at Brian his arm bones were back in place with no indication of trauma. I remember touching his arm and becoming very confused. I sat down in a chair as the paramedics took over. My friend Jeff, a man of faith, sat next to me and asked if I was okay. When I told him about the arms his response was “I believe you. Are you okay?” The whole situation seemed very surreal. It is not possible in the natural for compound fractures to set themselves.
I still ponder that event sometimes. I did not pray a single word during that crisis but several emotionally charged bystanders did and that made a difference. There were other injuries to both wrists that required medical attention but X-rays showed no damage to his arms, neck, nose, or head. It is understandable how this account may be difficult to accept as a miracle. As mentioned, I am not a medically trained professional and there are no supporting documentation as to the full extent of injuries Brian may have sustained in the fall. I have wondered if the miracle part of the healing was for me and a few others who had doubt. There is some things we may never know but I know God is still in the miracle business.
Another situation I found myself involved a truck driver by the name of Jack Dempsey that had a heart attack and crashed. This happened in November 2014 in Bartlett, ILL. A nurse named Jenny Golden happened on the scene at the same time and together we attended the victim. This time prayer was included in the rescue efforts. As we tried to get the truck door open we watched the driver die, he was in full cardiac arrest. We got the door open and Jenny tried to perform CPR while the driver was still in the truck. There were plenty of people standing around but none of them were willing to assist in getting the driver out of the truck. An officer that arrived at the scene ordered someone to help get him out. The paramedics were there within a couple of minutes and they took over attending the victim. I left that accident scene not expecting to see the nurse or driver again. The paramedics were able to restart Jack’s heart, but medically he should never have regained consciousness. All I knew to do was pray for his family. Less than two weeks later Jack and I shook hands in the hospital. Both of us had been changed by the same experience. His attending nurse called him an amazing man in regards to his healing process. I have no doubts that others were praying for Jack.
If this does not sound like much of a miracle consider this. In cardiac arrest blood and therefore oxygen is no longer getting to the brain. It is a medical fact that after six minutes of anoxia, (no air) one most likely becomes brain-dead. Doctors reported that Jack’s heart was stopped for 10-12 minutes. The AED used to restart Jack’s heart also caused him to have a stroke. This man fully recovered in short order. Jenny has become good friends with Jack and his family. I have met him twice since the hospital visit. He has had no lasting negative effects from the heart issue or stroke.
It seems logical and appropriate that God would use the Holy Spirit to empower an individual’s unique gifts and abilities to see others healed. Acts 3:1-8 tells of such an account about two disciples.
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
It is interesting that this man had been placed by the temple that Jesus would have taught in. It is plausible that Jesus saw him and may have walked by the lame beggar and not healed him. One pastor I know explains that because Christ taught his disciples to heal others, maybe Jesus did not heal the lame beggar because he wanted his disciples to heal him. We as believers in Christ have access to that same power through our relationship with God and the Holy Spirit. It makes me wonder how many miracles are waiting to happen by willing Christians using whatever gifts God has given them.
Do you believe in healings and miracles? I believe in miracles and healings because of what I have seen and experienced. God still uses us despite our doubt, maybe sometimes just to remind us all that He is in control and we are still loved.
Rev. Burt Schwab