Examples of Healing:
Yes! No! & Definitely!
PART 6 in the series on The Supernatural in the Church
by Terry L. Craig
© 2010 & 2013
I’d like to stop in the midst of this series and take a few moments to consider some actual examples where I was a witness to healing and/or healing ministry because a discussion on healing or miracles or other “supernatural” phenomena can’t simply be academic. While there are often SOME common denominators in these things, I tend to believe that people who want to sell you on supernatural “seminars”--whether that be for healing or prophecy or experiencing some other (billed as “Christian”) supernatural experience--are generally selling something. Yes, you might learn more about God . . . but couldn’t you do that without a seminar? God and His workings aren’t a recipe you can memorize (Learn verse A + do B + Stand in this spot = a miracle/healing/angel contact).
In fact, if it wasn’t so sad that people were desperate for such things, some of these the “how to” seminars (on prophecy, miracles, and healing) would be laughable. While someone who has a gift or ministry can mentor others (by modeling character, discerning, and what a mature Christian might do in various circumstances) you cannot “teach” someone the gifts of the Spirit and you cannot sell them. When we believe that we can follow a set of actions in order to achieve a specific miraculous result we are reducing Christianity to the level of magic.
God is not my servant, I am His.
While we are commanded to love the Lord with all we are, love neighbors as we love ourselves, and to love brothers and sisters in Christ without exception, doing some or ALL of these guarantees only one thing: we are abiding in the heart of God. Being there doesn’t guarantee “success” in the things we think we want, or world peace, or that every day will be sunny for us. But . . . people want to pass over what God has already said in order move onto ways and means of achieving goals. As a result of our fallen nature, we want to control things. We want the power to do what we want, when we want to do it, and we’re compelled to find patterns and formulas we think will guarantee results. So we tell ourselves that there is a particular order or sequence of words or works that will precede a miraculous event (such as a healing). Really?
If you look at the Bible (even if you just stick to the New Testament), you don’t see God doing anything in exactly the same way twice. Jesus healed people by touching them, by spitting on dirt and putting the mud on them, by letting them touch His robe, and by speaking a declaration from a distance. He healed people in temple services, in homes, in the countryside, in crowds of people, and in private. He healed them during different days of the week and different hours of the day. Jesus healed many people because of their faith, He healed some because their friends or family members had faith . . . but please note: Although faith (believing that Jesus has done and still can do something) is often an “ingredient” in healing, sometimes God just sovereignly moves in situations without our faith. Jesus healed a boy when neither the boy’s father nor the disciples had the faith to believe the boy could be healed (Matthew 17:14-18). Jesus brought people back from the dead when no one had the faith to believe He would do such things (Luke 7:11-15, John 11). He healed several people who didn’t say they wanted His help (Luke 13:11-13, Mark 3:3-6, John 9). Contrary to what you may have been taught, Jesus didn't heal every sick person who was near to Him. On one occasion, he stepped around or over MANY sick people to reach and cure ONE man (John 5:1-15). After His resurrection and ascension, there are miracles (including healing) recorded in the book of Acts and Paul’s writing.
The only common denominator I can find in Scripture is that the Lord is the one who is (and should be) credited with all of them.
All the examples of healing ministry (in the here and now) I will give in this article involve me personally. While I’ve known many people who’ve been healed or experienced other miracles, I will let them give their own testimonies. You can doubt what I’m about to say, but these are things I saw, experienced, witnessed, and touched.
Example One is a healing from permanent nerve damage in a church service.
Example Two is the account of a large "miracle healing" meeting in an arena.
Example Three is the story of my father being brought back to life . . . and how it changed him forever.
Before I knew the Lord, I suffered a "permanent" injury to nerves in my spine during a surgery. By the time I got saved and started attending church, I’d had no feeling in my heels for eight years. Not trying to be graphic here, but this was more than a small problem. One time, I stepped on a large shard of glass and didn’t realize it until I slipped and fell in a pool of my own blood. In addition to no feeling in my heels, I had seasons of intense pain that lasted weeks or months, and there were several times during the course of those years that my legs had just gone out from under me, and I would have no feeling in them for several minutes.
But eight years into it, I'd come to know the Lord and the pastor of my church announced he was going to have a “healing service” one evening the following week. . . . In a conversation few days before the service, the pastor of the church said that he didn’t believe that God healed anyone anymore, but that the leadership of his denomination was mandating that all their churches have at least one of these services a month so he was going to comply. I might not even have gone, but I felt a strong prompting from Lord to go. I had no expectations other than being there with Jesus.
So I went to the service in which there was a small teaching followed by communion (where the leadership of this denomination believed the healing could take place--and, no, this wasn’t a Roman Catholic church. Sadly, many denominations have forgotten the powerful things that can and do happen when people partake of the Lord's table). When I walked to the front of the church to take communion, I was so absorbed by what I was doing that I wasn’t paying attention to anyone else. I took communion and turned to leave the altar (not thinking about anyone who might be standing behind me) and bumped right into somebody! I started to whisper, “Sorry! Excuse me!” when I realized . . . no one was there. Before I could move or speak, large invisible arms wrapped around me and pulled me close in an embrace so real that I could actually feel my own breath bouncing off someone and back at me. It only lasted a moment and no one else was aware of it, but as I was wrapped in this enormous hug, a warmth spread through my whole being and down my legs.
You have to understand that I was a new Christian and this was a church where ORDER and quiet reverence were at the top of the list of things expected of the congregation at all times . . . a church where the pastor didn't believe that anybody would be healed in the "healing service."
The embrace stopped and, not knowing what else to do, I began walking back to my seat . . . only my backside, my legs, and feet began to feel like they were ON FIRE. Not just warm, but so hot it was painful. Still trying to be orderly and reverent, I returned to my pew . . . where I had to hold myself off the seat because the burning sensation was overwhelming. The burning stopped about the time the service was over. I went home . . . and to my surprise (and delight) I found that the feeling in my heels had completely returned. I did call the pastor the next day to tell him what had happened. I’m not sure how he felt about it, but it seemed like a mixture of delight and disbelief. Not long after that, my family and I moved thousands of miles away, so I have no idea if he ever came to terms with what God can do. That was more than thirty years ago and I have never again had the problems that were healed.
Example Two —the trip to see a famous “healer”
Nearly twenty years ago, a dear friend of mine was dying of cancer. During that time, a whole group of men in “miracle” ministries were coming together in a nearby city to have a “healing” night. My friend loved the worship music on the TV show of one of these men, and she wanted to go to this meeting with all her heart. She felt, if nothing else, her unsaved family members (who hopefully would attend if she went) would hear the message of the Gospel. I wanted to see my friend healed, in fact I prayed for it every day . . . so how could I tell her I wouldn't help her get to a meeting where they claimed it might happen?
A number of us took on the monumental task of getting all the necessary equipment and transportation to get her to the meeting. Her family members also came . . . but I can tell you that this event was one of the largest displays of pride, greed, and weird uses of “power” that I've ever witnessed. It was advertised as a “miracle” night where the “healing power of God” would be manifest, but my first clue to the true nature of the meeting was that hundreds of “V.I.P.” guests were given the entire section (at least 40 or 50 rows of seating) in front of the platform instead of the sick and handicapped who were supposed to be the reason for the outreach. Those in wheelchairs (hundreds of men, women, and children) were placed at the very back of the floor level. In fact, there were so many of them that the wheelchairs had to be overlapped in such a way that the legs of each person in a wheelchair were underneath wheelchair in front of him/her. If there had been any sort of emergency, many of the people placed there would have died in the tangled mess of wheelchairs.
The men who claimed to be bringing the power of God for miracles complimented themselves and strutted around for TWO AND A HALF HOURS while all of those who were handicapped, sick, and dying patiently waited. These men also managed to take up THREE separate collections of money. My friend stopped breathing twice during the meeting, and both times I placed my hands upon her and prayed before she started again. I sensed such an evil presence hovering over all these desperate and/or dying people that it was nearly overwhelming to me. After making them wait for HOURS, one of the men in “healing ministry” spoke (mostly about his anointing and the power God had given him.) He then proceeded to “throw” this power up into the tiers of seating above us in the arena. Many of the people standing where he threw these invisible “balls of power” fell back into their seats. He was thrilled with himself. I must stop at this point to say that EVEN IF this man had an anointing from God . . . why would the Lord want him to be performing tricks when so many had come to be healed? The answer, I believe, was that this was merely a distraction, a stunt that would occupy the minds of the people—so they wouldn't notice the absence of healing in the meeting.
Eventually, after wowing everyone with his powers to knock down healthy people, the man gave an “altar call” for those who wanted to be healed. I've never witnessed such a melee in all my life! The entire front of the arena became jammed with all the (able-bodied) people who could get there first. By the time we got people in wheel chairs un-entangled, neither they nor those with walkers or crutches could get anywhere near the platform. Behind us, there were even more able-bodied people who had run down from the seating above who began crawling over the top of the people in wheelchairs, including my friend in order to get closer to the man who claimed he had so much power. My friend was so close to death that I became concerned that one of these people might kill her while climbing over her. To this day, I cannot recall any time in my life that I was ever so sorry to have gone to a “Christian” meeting.
To the best of my knowledge, NOT ONE PERSON of the thousands in attendance was healed that evening. Am I surprised? No. Given the lack of Scriptural teaching, the lack of a real presentation of the Gospel, and the lack of glory or honor given to the Lord in this meeting, and the abundance of sheer pride and greed exhibited . . . truthfully, I would have been surprised if anyone had been miraculously healed. I must add that I don't believe that most of the “famous” people in healing ministry in Western churches are actually being used to heal the sick on a regular basis. I think this lack of healing is partly our fault and partly theirs—I believe the Holy Spirit has been grieved by the greed and the worship of celebrities in many of these meetings.
We have to stop being FANS of Christian celebrities and start weighing the message of those who minister, start watching what they do with the resources they collect, and to look at the fruit of these ministries.
Did this experience make me think God stopped healing people? No it didn't.
Example Three —My dad
I’ll try not to ramble on here, but I do want to be faithful to capture the essence of what happened to my dad. I won’t go into every detail, but I do want people to know that God did something wonderful. It wasn’t one of those quick “Get up and walk” kind of miracles, but a miracle nonetheless.
My father. . . . My father was like a hurricane in human form when I was young. Bold, intelligent, opinionated . . . and many of my childhood memories of him involve him being angry. From the time I was little, he often talked and joked about killing himself. Why? I’m sure it’s more complicated that this, but one of the roots of it was when he was a young man (13 or 14) and his own father passed away after he’d prayed that God wouldn’t let his daddy die. To top it off, a lot of church people in the very small community where he lived said things like, “If there’s anything you need . . .” Well, my father was the only son, the youngest child of a farmer . . . and it was harvest time . . . and they all knew it. Not one of those people came to help. A lot of the crops on my father’s family farm rotted in the fields, and for almost the rest of his life, my daddy hated those people. More importantly, he hated the God he thought they served. So whenever some pastor ran off with someone else's wife, whenever a church leader faced criminal charges, or some deacon in a church cheated him in a business deal, my father would cite it as further evidence of the falsehood of Christianity, the ridiculousness of religion. Up into middle age, my father’s life seemed a constant brawl with God, filled with trials and hardships. He thought of himself as an atheist, but the sheer vitriol he expressed toward God made me wonder -- how could my dad hate someone whom he claimed didn’t exist?
Much to my father’s dismay, my sister came to know Jesus when she was in high school and I came to know Him in my mid-twenties. Although he softened in his later years, my dad held onto his opinions. Even as he got older and he could look back at some successes in life, sometimes he’d still be overwhelmed with melancholy.
But in the summer of 2011, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my father was about to die. All of us had been praying for Daddy for decades . . . but my prayers for him took on a new intensity. I prayed more than ever that God wouldn’t let my father slip from this earth before He knew Jesus.
The call came. He was fixing a wooden fence and must have felt woozy or something because he sat down on the open tailgate of his pickup truck. Then he fell back into the bed of the truck and died, lying there for nobody knows how long on a warm day. Just one of the many miracles the Lord worked for my father was that an ER nurse (who didn’t know any of us) was about to go to bed after a long shift and she literally got this urgent feeling that she HAD to get in her car and drive someplace. She wasn’t certain where or why, but the feeling was so strong that she did . . . and happened upon the scene where other people driving by had already seen my father’s legs dangling from the tailgate of his truck, pulled over, gotten my mother from the house, called 911, and started CPR (but had been unsuccessful in getting his heart to beat). The nurse stopped her car, ran up, and took over. She got his heart started and then even went with my mom and sister to the hospital when the ambulance took my dad away.
Because he’d gotten so warm, doctors put my father in a coma and chilled him down for 24 hours. I flew into town and we kept watch over him. They took him off the coma meds . . . but he just stayed in a coma day after day. Doctors said that every hour he stayed like that, the chances of him coming back were rapidly diminishing.
All we could do was pray. And if any Christian came to the room and asked if we wanted prayer for Daddy, we gladly accepted it. Amazingly, even as the days ticked by—three, four, six, ten . . . we had such peace at night when each of us went to bed that we could all actually sleep. We had NO IDEA what God might be doing . . . but He was giving us peace that He was at work. That peace was hard to hold onto at times, but then I’d spend time talking to the Lord, and there was that peace again.
The hospital was edging toward the “let’s unplug him” or “let’s move him to a facility” conversation, but unless or until we actually got to that spot, all we could do was pray. Even if my dad had died at that time, I had peace that the Lord had accomplished something in Daddy.
Day thirteen dawned and it was my birthday. Nobody in the family had the heart to wish me a happy birthday that morning. We got dressed and were getting ready to go to the hospital when the nurse in the ICU called us. She said my Daddy was awake and responding to her by squeezing her hands. :-) To me it was like:
Happy birthday Terry
My dad was still on a respirator, but he was alert, focusing on us, and able to squeeze our hands. The neurologist said it was a BIG deal that he was still “in there” after so much time. Just how much of him was there we didn’t know, but he was, indeed, responding.
And the next few weeks were rocky on and off. (One doctor took my sister and I aside and told us Daddy would just fade away physically and we should just take him home and let him die--advice we didn't take). For the most part, my father couldn’t move because his muscles had atrophied so much while he was in a coma. To the amazement of everyone, however, his mind was working. He talked very slowly the first week, and had trouble with short-term memory for about three weeks or so, but after that his mind worked just fine. He had to go to rehab to get some strength back, but his heart was so damaged, they weren’t sure he’d EVER be able to do anything for himself--not even shave or feed himself, much less walk.
Despite the doctor’s expectations, my dad got stronger and stronger. After two weeks in rehab, he came home in a wheelchair. Within a couple of weeks of being home, he started walking around the house, then around his yard, then mowing his lawn on his riding mower, cleaning his pool, and then going to Walmart and shopping with Mom. (I don’t want to give a false impression here and say that he returned to his former vigor. He was getting around—far beyond any predictions—but he was diminished in capacity.)
Did he recall anything from his time in a coma? He had NO recollections of it . . . yet in spite of all he went through and all he’d lost, he became joyous . . . and grateful. That Christmas, he was less than two months out of the hospital. (When I was a kid, my father would be at his worst at Christmas. The religious aspect of this holiday would put him in a real MOOD.) But this year . . . it was like his first Christmas. He was so happy to be able to go to spend Christmas Eve with all the nearby family members.
We all sensed that God was lending Daddy to us for just a while longer. We had asked for another chance for him, and he was getting it. What he did with that chance was still up to him.
Dear reader, I can’t tell you how much God loves you. I hope you allow yourself to soak that in. If you think it’s all “fate” or that God has plotted out all of our days like a chess match and you’re just a pawn, or that some form of Karma will eventually pay you back for every bad choice . . . I hope you’ll reconsider—and ponder for at least a moment that the One who created ALL of this loves us, and allows each of us to choose whether or not to love Him back. When we choose Him, we are cut from the wild tree where we were grown and grafted into God’s family tree. It changes everything.
Nearly six months after he died the first time, my Daddy started winding down and he knew it. They took him to the hospital and called me. I flew to get there. He was still in his right mind, but his body was beginning to shut down. It wouldn’t be long they told us.
Several days into his hospital stay, my sister spent the day with him, praying and singing hymns whenever my father slept. As it turned out, he actually was awake for a good bit of it and when it was getting toward evening, he told her how much he’d enjoyed it. He was writing notes on a little yellow pad because he was wearing an oxygen mask and it was difficult to talk. He told her his pain meds were coming soon. She said that was fine. But then he indicated to her that he wanted to do something before the meds came, while he still had a clear head. She asked what he wanted. Here is what he wrote: "Jesus -- will you take me now?"
They joyously prayed together and my iron-willed father finally surrendered his life to the Lord who had wanted to comfort and love him his whole life.
Four days later, he went home to Heaven while I was holding his hand.
Yes, the Lord did MANY miracles on my father’s behalf . . . but my dad being able to give himself to Jesus was the biggest one of all.
Again, I have probably experienced thousands of divine, Holy Spirit ministry moments in my life. I’ve seen the Lord do a few things I’m not sure I’ll ever write about. I've known two people who were healed of MS when they were literally on their death beds, and I've known others who were healed of deadly tumors and other diseases. I'm not talking about temporary healing or some placebo effect, or healing through medicine. I mean miraculous healing. But all of this pales in comparison to the person of Jesus and what He came to give us.
If you are desperate or searching, I cannot (nor can anyone else) guarantee you will get a miracle or a gift or any other thing you might be seeking. I want to tell you that I think Jesus probably feels a bit sad about miracles sometimes because they tend to make a circus of things when what He REALLY wants to do is open the door to Father God. If you haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend giving all that you are to Jesus and choosing to follow Him for the rest of your journey on this planet. The Lord says that when someone does this, all of Heaven rejoices.
So, in case your're wondering,
The answer is, "Yes."
By Terry L. Craig, © 2013
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This was PART 6 in the series on Prophecies, Visions, Angels, & Miracles
Previously in the series:
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