Does God Still Do Miracles?
- Monday, January 01, 2007
Not long ago, I heard the story of a woman whose teenage daughter was severely disabled with cerebral palsy. For several agonizing years, the mother prayed that God would work a miracle and heal her.
Then a friend and two other Christians approached the mother. "God gave me a vision that your daughter will soon be miraculously healed," one said. Another said she had a dream that the daughter walked upright.
The mother's hopes lifted. But the days slipped into weeks … the weeks into months … and still, no miracle. To date, this woman's daughter remains terribly crippled with cerebral palsy. I can't help but wonder whether this woman's faith has remained resilient despite the false hope given by so-called "friends."
Perhaps, like me, you've known people who have prayed for a miracle from God, but the miracle floodgates have failed to release even a single drop. Maybe you've sat motionless by their bedsides, unsure of what to say, as tears streamed down their cheeks over their disappointment with God. They've read book after book heralding the existence of miracles. They've sat in church and heard parishioners share incredible stories of divine healings. All the while, their spirits spiral downward as they wonder why God won't intervene in a similar miraculous fashion on their behalf.
Many Christian physicians, including myself, believe God still performs miracles of physical healing that defy natural explanation. But are the hosts of "miracles" we hear about so often truly miracles? As the apostle Paul writes, "Test everything" (
I did just that after reading the account of a 3-year-old girl who suffered a broken leg along with brain and abdominal trauma in a horrendous car accident. The author wrote that the girl had 37 tubes in her body and that the doctors told the parents on the fourth day that the girl would need to remain in intensive care for at least two months, followed by six to eight months in the hospital learning to walk again. When the child was discharged 11 days later, the author labeled the healing a genuine miracle. He went on to write of other events in the weeks following the accident, including the miraculous healing of the leg's curvature and limp.
I called the author and asked him for additional details. He admitted having gathered his information from both parents and doctors—and I found many inconsistencies. (From a doctor's perspective, it was easy to see which information came from which source.) For example, 37 tubes in a 3-year-old child with blunt trauma, and no abdominal surgery, is an absurd number. After following patients in the surgical intensive care unit as a surgery resident, and on the ward as chief resident of a respected rehabilitation medicine program, I can also tell you that a doctor cannot—and would not—predict on the fourth day exactly how long it would take for a comatose 3-year-old to be discharged from the PICU and begin walking again. (The doctors might have given a worst-case scenario, but the author's wording never implied this.)
Furthermore, orthopedic surgeons are seldom worried about curvatures and leg length discrepancies in young children who have suffered a broken leg. Why? Because children's bones usually grow out to correct such deformities.
Unless one was knowledgeable in medicine, the author's story would appear to be a miracle. But to a trained medical professional with expertise in treating many such patients, this example isn't so miraculous. The author wasn't deliberately sensationalizing the story; he just didn't have the medical knowledge to fully understand the situation.
The same is true for many others who do not have significant medical training. They cannot begin to grasp how the human body is the most complex piece of molecular machinery known to man. Without having all the facts—lab and pathology reports, X-rays, treatment details, the natural course of the disease, etc.—it's nearly impossible to determine the nature of a healing.
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