As a Christian, I have faith in a lot of things. I have faith in the innate goodness of human beings. I have faith in the divine love of God. I have faith that my sins were paid for on the cross by a man who didn’t even know me. My faith has sustained through poverty, child abuse and molestation, uncertainty and illness. It hasn’t delivered me from any of those things, mind you, just sustained me through them.
Because I have faith, I cannot discount the idea of miracles in all different shapes and forms. Some are so simple that we fail to see them everyday like flowers growing in an open meadow, a bubbling brook with nearly flawlessly clear water, a wild animal in the forest or any of a million other natural occurrences.
Some miracles are more concrete like the birth of a baby, a paramedic bringing someone back from the brink of death, an individual walking away from a fatal car accident. Some miracles are larger still.
Christians, of course, know that Christ performed many miracles during his short lifetime. Some were simple, some were more concrete, and some were life altering. We also know that when Christ ascended to heaven, he left behind his disciples to spread his work and perform miracles in the name of God.
Today, faith healers continue to perform miracles. However, not everyone who claims to be a healer is necessarily telling the truth. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that such things can happen. It just means that I realize that there are those who, for reasons of their own, lie and cheat in order to make the almighty dollar.
For hundreds of years, the Catholic Church has followed and tried to validate miracles such as the sighting of the Madonna; people who claim to have stigmata; and miraculous health cures. The Vatican even has a set of criteria that it follows to prove the validity of any miraculous claim. Few faith healers have managed to meet all of the criteria established with regard to miracle cures. Even some of those who have, were later accused of other sinful acts.
For that reason, some healers who have passed the tests, so to speak, have kept hidden until after their death. Some claim that was done in order to keep the power and control within the Catholic Church. Others believe it is was done in order to allow healers a chance to do as much good work as possible, out of the eye of the general public. Whatever their reasoning, the church has managed to keep a relatively tight lid on some of the most intriguing miracles of modern day.
Then there are the miraculous cures that have occurred without the use of a faith healer. Some individuals, once diagnosed with diseases like cancer, leukemia, lupus, and others have somehow managed to heal themselves. Does that make their cures somehow less miraculous?
Case in point, a few years back actress and entertainer Suzanne Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer. After having the cancer removed, she opted not to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. Instead, she approached the situation from a more holistic point of view.
Although not someone who talks constantly about her faith, Ms. Somers nonetheless had more than enough to sustain her. Using that, along with a diet of healthy food, exercise, and a determination to rid her body of all toxins including medications, she overcame the odds that were stacked against her. She has remained cancer free now for five years.
Groups, organizations, and businesses like Cancer Treatment Centers of America have formed around this kind of holistic approach. They try to teach those stricken with illness that they do, in fact, have some control over what happens to them. They believe that a positive attitude, along with faith, and a wholesome approach to treating their bodies can make a difference.
In other cases, people that were given hours, days, or weeks to live have managed to survive instead for months or even years. How? Through the power of prayer of friends and family. Once such case was documented in the book Mysteries of the World. It notes that, in 1975, a British physician was diagnosed with fatal bacteria that had already passed the stages where treatment could make a difference.
Determined, however, not to lose their friend, colleague, and healer, her friends and family banned together to pray for her in four separate prayer groups located miles away from the physician who had just lapsed into a coma.
The groups’ coordinated their efforts and began praying at exactly 8:30 p.m. At the same time, the physician’s vital signs suddenly became stronger and shortly thereafter, she turned a corner moving back from the edge of death. Hours later, her kidneys that had shut down suddenly began working again, on their own.
The groups continued to meet and pray for their friend and with each session, she became stronger. Finally, she awoke from her coma and began to get well. By the time she left the hospital, there was no sign of the bacteria that just weeks ago had threatened her very life.
Of course the question remains, “would she have gotten better anyway?” I obviously can’t speak to that. Modern science performs hundreds of miracles every single day. In the long run, I’m not sure that it really matters from where a miracle comes. What matters is that it happens at all.
So why are some people cured and others not? That is a question for the ages, if it can be answered at all. Many believe that having faith is a crutch that some of us use. Others believe it is an act of stupidity or naivete. They are entitled to those beliefs just as we are entitled to have faith in something that we cannot see, touch, smell, hear, or taste; at least in the most traditional sense.
One thing, however, remains certain. As long as miracles happen, in whatever form they may take, it will make people wonder if there is possibly something to faith healing, self belief, and the power of prayer. That, in itself, is a bit of a miracle.