Friday, May 22, 2009

Miraculous Healings

With the subject of faith healing a hot topic today many are examining the topic of Faith or Divine Healing.

It certainly makes the news when a family relies on faith instead of modern clinical treatments for terminal conditions for their children.

I’ll cover the overall philosophy of divine or faith healing with a common sense approach on my Examiner page. Here though, as always, I’d like to relate some stories. I believe that God can heal. I have seen it happen.

I believe also that more than not God decides not to heal.

In all my years of praying with the terminally ill, or people with serious medical conditions, I found it is not a question of faith. I have seen people of mighty faith wither and pass, even with the an army of people praying and seeking the best medical treatment.

But I have also witnessed some incredible things.

Beth was born with a birth defect. She had one leg shorter than the other and from the time of her first step she had walked with a hobble. It had other physical as well as emotional effects on her. Although attractive, she never felt accepted or normal. She felt like a freak, and although she had shoes that helped fill the gap for her short leg, she already had a curvature of the spine that still made her limp.

We went to school together at Nyack College, and one night she came to my room very excited. She was going to a traveling evangelist meeting where the speaker was a faith healer. She was going to go up and have him anoint her for healing. She was sure that God would perform a miracle because she had seen a video of the same evangelist doing for another person what she wanted so much for herself- he pulled the persons smaller leg and it grew to the same length as the other.

I smiled and wished her the best, but deep inside I felt very sad. I knew that this was an old trick that many phony faith healers used to show off to an audience. They have planted assistants with fake illnesses in the audience and perform ‘miracles’. The leg extension was a common sham. But that night as she was at the service I prayed along with her friends for a real miracle to happen.

That night about 11pm she came to my dorm. She was not limping. She was barefoot.

Not only were her legs the same length, her spine was straight.

I had not been there to witness what happened, but I was stunned by the evidence before me. I really never thought it would happen. I did not have the faith. But Beth did, and God blessed her. She told me the minister put his hand on her and she felt a burning all over her body. It was so intense that she screamed and fell down. The ushers had to escort her to the back of the stage and they told her later they feared she was going into a seizure. The heat subsided into a soothing warmth and when she got up, she was healed.

Madeline was your average 10 year old girl, she loved her Brats dolls and was active in many after school activities. She was always a talkative girl and her mother would often tell her to catch a breath between words because it seemed her mouth could never catch up to her mind. Then something changed that made her mother take notice. Her speech started to slur a bit. Not a lot, but noticeable. Her mother and her school were going to enroll her in speech therapy classes.

Then she started having the seizures.

At first she would just be sitting in front of the TV with a blank stare on her face. Her mother would have to shake her to have her come to. Then they would happen at any time and no matter how loud you screamed or tried to jostle her awake, she would remain in a frozen glare until she slowly came out of it. These episodes frightened Madeline as much as her mother, for to her it felt like she died. She just was not ‘there’ and everything would fade to black.

Their doctor thought it could be a host of problems so he ordered a CAT scan.

They found a golf ball sized tumor between her Medulla and Cerebellum.

They did a biopsy which in itself was a very painful and traumatic event for the 10 year old since she had to shave her head. But luckily it was benign. So weighing the options they decided to wait and see before having to commit to a major and dangerous surgical procedure to remove the tumor.

But within the two months from their initial discovery of the tumor it had grown to the size of a baseball. Something had to be done. Madeline’s seizures were now becoming violent and more often. They had to operate, but the doctors were blunt. There was a major chance she would not make it out of the surgery with her full mental capabilities. She could be disabled or in a vegetative state for the rest of her life.

Of course Madeline was devastated and frightened beyond belief. She prayed for some other option.

I knew her mother and I offered to come over and anoint her with oil. It is a common Biblical practice to anoint the sick with oil and ask for healing. Now I do not advertise to be a faith healer. I was trained in a Denomination that does believe in divine healing, and have met people who have a gift of healing. I was never one of those. I did have a sense when praying with others for healing whether or not God would heal though. I don’t know what kind of gift that is and needless to say I felt that He would not heal more often than not, and of course I would never let on to the sick one what my impression was.

So it was with major reservations that I came to Madeline’s house with my little bottle of oil and my Bible. I had a few people pray for her at the time I was to anoint her, and she had been put on many prayer lists. Her family and I gathered around her in a circle, and after a brief prayer I anointed her head with oil while all put there hands on her and prayed.

She too felt a strange warmth go from her head to the ends of her extremities, she told us afterwards. But there was no wiz bang moment. We all went home hoping and waiting as her next hospital visit approached in a few days.

A few weeks passed and she received another CAT scan in preparation for the physicians suggested operation. The tumor had shrunk to the size of a marble. The operation was postponed in order to see what was happening in her little body.

It has been three years. The tumor has even shrunk to even a smaller size. And Madeline has not had a seizure since she was anointed and prayed over.

Now I know I do not have a gift of healing. And neither I nor anyone present had an incredible gift of faith. Except one. Madeline trusted. And God healed.

It is a rarity, which is why some doubt; but when it does happen it is amazing.

Sometimes healings from God are not as dramatic or as full. David was 46 years old when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. Through chemotherapy he made it through a tough fight. After a remission period of 9 years it came back. But David could not seek treatment because he had severe heart disease and an enlarged heart. His liver was failing as well as his kidneys. He also had diabetes. The doctors gave him six months to live. David was raised a Catholic and like many had a deep childhood faith, but he had abandoned it when he became a teenager. It was not until this crisis that he trusted God for healing. He was put on many prayer lists and anointed as well.

Again there was no wiz bang moment.

In fact nothing changed. But that was over two years ago. The cancer did not go away. Nor did the cardiac, diabetes, liver and kidney problems. It seems time slowed the processes that would try so hard to steal away his life. He has had a year and a half more than the doctors had thought, and he is still alive and vibrant. He has his good days and bad, he has his days of doubt and his days of faith. But he has been miraculously sustained and given the gift of time when doctors had given him no hope.

Can we experience miraculous healings as in Biblical times today? Many people assume this just ignorant superstition. But I have experienced it first hand. Sometimes it happens not as we wish or desire, and sometimes not at all.

Even though we pray with ferverent and sincere prayers of selfless love.

It is not in our hands.

But that should not stop us from asking and praying with a sincere heart. Because like anything else in our world…

You will never know until you try.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope

My Examiner article: The Truth About Faith Healing


cryptidsrus said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about having "Faith, but not Blind Faith."

Even Buddha used to tell his followers not to believe anything that was proclaimed to them, even by him. One must always "test."

I don't know about Mrs. Hauser. I just don't know. Where do you draw the line or go beyond it?
Thoughts worth pondering.

Mike Brody said...


Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Cryptidsrus,

I know, I am all for alternative healing IF you have exhausted traditional ones-especially if it involves a child.

Then again I had a wonderfully kind and beautiful cousin who had cancer in the 80s. The doctors told her about a new technique and they gave it to her. It literally killed her skin, turning it black. She died from the treatment, not the cancer.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Mike,

Your welcome!

Howard said...

Sirach 38:1-15 (King James Version!)
Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him. For of the most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the king. The skill of the physician shall lift up his head: and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration. The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them. Was not the water made sweet with wood, that the virtue thereof might be known? And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works. With such doth he heal [men,] and taketh away their pains. Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth. My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole. Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness. Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour; and make a fat offering, as not being. Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him: let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him. There is a time when in their hands there is good success. For they shall also pray unto the Lord, that he would prosper that, which they give for ease and remedy to prolong life.Yes, there are miraculous healings, but much suffering has been caused by those who refuse to see a doctor in the hope of a miracle. It's too bad almost no Protestant Bibles include Sirach. (Yes, it was included in the earliest editions of the King James Version.)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful examples of divine healing, Pastor Swope. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in a church that believed in faith healing. I saw many miraculous healings through prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands. I have seen so many instances where there was either a complete healing or a significanat improvement in the individual's condition, that to me it was rather mundane. As you stated, most of the time when poeple were prayed for there was no healing though.

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in a church that believed in faith healing. I saw many miraculous healings through prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands. I have seen so many instances where there was either a complete healing or a significanat improvement in the individual's condition, that to me it was rather mundane. As you stated, most of the time when poeple were prayed for there was no healing though.

Sly said...

While faith does play a huge role in healing, sometimes all the faith in the world will not change the outcome.

I had a personal experience that stunned my doctor many years ago.

While God healed me of that problem, I am left with another. But I don't pretend to wonder why God chose to heal one thing and not the other.

I am able to use what ails me to help others who are going through the same thing or worse.

So in some cases, I think God has very valid reasons for not healing.

I know miracles exist and I am a recipient of that power. I am just so grateful to have experienced something so incredible, and thank God for his mercy, even though I don't deserve it.

I love these stories.

Anonymous said...

We should all remember that God answers prayers with either a "Yes," "No," or "Wait." When we pray for one thing and He gives us another, we have to remember that He always gives us the better thing. If we pray for someone to be healed and that person dies, God has not ignored us but has given that person permanent healing by taking him or her home, where there will be no more pain, no more tears. Heaven is better than this place, after all.

For me, the greatest difficulty is when I have prayed for someone's salvation, but still saw that person die without accepting Christ. Still, I have learned to trust Jesus, even when the unsaved reject Him on their deathbeds. His love and righteousness are beyond our comprehension, so whatever He does is the best path. Who can rebuke the Lord? What do we know? If someone hates Him and has no desire to know His love, the most humane thing to do is to eventually put such a one out of his or her misery (just as we put a dog down to be merciful). That is the

Anyway, the way I see things, the real function of miraculous healings is that they provide an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power. If people were healed every time anyone prayed, we would attribute the power to the act of prayer rather than God's initiative. Who is in charge here, anyway? Miracles should catch our attention and redirect it toward Jesus Christ, leading us to give our lives to Him. The greatest danger is that we should come up with fanciful theories explaining faith healings without glorifying God or that we should dismiss them entirely based on an inability to comprehend them. The very thing that differentiates Jesus from all the other "gods" out there is that He is the God Who saves, Who heals, Who holds us all in the palm of His hand and loves us with a love that is beyond anything we can conceive of.

Doubting Thomas said...

Interesting stuff Pastor, although I'm not as sure as you that God has anything to do with it.

The medical literature is spotted with many anomalous cures.

On the faith side, there's the case of the gentlemen whose hip had deteriorated into a mass of goo. This was documented by numerous X-rays. He then bathed in the waters of Lourdes, I believe, and, within a few years, had completely regrown a hip. Something that is, according to medical science, physically impossible. This was also documented with X-rays.

But you also have cases like the gentlemen who was dying of cancer. According to his physician, he was covered with tumors the size of oranges, and death was imminent.
The man had read about a new drug that was touted has having "miraculous effects" on cancer. The patient talked his doctor into giving it to him, despite the doctor's misgivings about any efficacy the drug would have. Lo and behold, in a few days, all the mans tumors had shrunk into non-existence, and the doctor tentatively pronounced him cancer free.

Within a few weeks of the patient's hospital exit, some medical literature questioned the usefulness of the drug the patient was given. Days after reading this, the man's cancer returned to the same lethal level.

His physician then convinced him that the medical literature the patient had read was describing an earlier, less powerful, incarnation of the drug. The drug the patient received was a newer, more powerful version. Once again, the man's cancer went into complete remission.

Soon after this second success, the AMA published a paper saying that, in all subsequent trials, the drug the patient was given was completely useless as a cancer cure.

Within days of reading this, the man's cancer returned once again, killing him within days.

In my opinion, pronouncing Godly influence seems premature. Until we actually understand ourselves and the "reality" we exist in to a greater degree than we do, any "answers" will be tentative at best. Probably influenced more by our desire to "feel good," rather than any desire to know "the truth."

I suppose my major quibble with "faith-healing" is the contradictions inherent in the whole belief system. If one's "faith" is great enough to heal oneself, why would one need healed in the first place. If one believes the religious answer, death isn't an ending, it's just a release from this world. In other words, rather than some great testament to faith, these incidents seem like the last ditch attempts of the utterly terrified.


Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Sly,

2Corinthians 1:3-4 says,

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Sometimes we do not get the answer we pray for but we can bless others who are going through the same thing since we have been through it.

God Bless you as you help others!

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Doubting Thomas,

As I say in my Examiner article, It is not the faith, it is God.

Why are you sorry? You have your opinion and on empirical evaluation it is valid for you. I understand it as well but for me it is not just a faith in God, it is seeing His hand in not just healings, but many other incredible happenings.

Howard said...

Some of your readers may be interested in Healing Fire of Christ by Paul Glynn. It is about selected modern miracles of healing, mostly at Lourdes. In no small part this is because there is a medical staff there which has documented the "before" and "after" of many healings as a part of the rigorous process of determining whether a miracle has occurred which can be used as evidence for a beatification or canonization.

drew said...

I have a prayer request which is me getting a job before this month end,and by faith i receive the miracle,amen