You read in the Bible about Jesus healing the sick and in the book of Acts about healing miracles happening at the hands of the apostles. But does God still perform healing miracles today? I’m not talking about healing through medicine or surgery, wonderful as those are. I’m talking about the supernatural intervention of God to heal the sick—a healing that defies the prognosis of doctors. That’s a miracle! As a skeptic when it comes to miracles, I’ve seen God heal the sick with my own eyes. I believe in miraculous, God-intervening healing. Let me tell you the story of a first-hand encounter I had with one such miracle.
I had just finished preaching the first service in our church in California and was unwinding between services in the church office when Gary burst through the door weeping uncontrollably. Through great sobs, this forty-something dad shared that his 8 year old daughter, Joy, had been diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor in the pineal gland. The pineal gland is located in the center of the brain between the two hemispheres. Joy was admitted to a large hospital in Sacramento and Gary and his wife and other daughter were going to drive there in their RV and camp out in the parking lot. Gary asked me and the deacons to come to the hospital and pray for Joy’s healing. He was understandably desperate. I agreed to come and bring the deacons.
When I asked the four deacons, all agreed to join me and so the following Monday we drove to the hospital. In route I challenged the men to read James 5:13-18 and asked if they believed the promise of healing. All did. Then I described what we would be doing. I had brought a small vial of olive oil and told them that we would read that passage to Joy and ask her to confess any sins she had committed. Then we would lay hands on her and pray for her. Finally I would anoint her head with the oil.
When we arrived at the hospital we made our way to her room. Her dad and mom were already there along with a doctor and a nurse. We asked the hospital personnel if we could have a private time to pray with the family and they agreed to leave the room. Her dad told us that scans had shown that the tumor had doubled in size. The doctors had related that they could not treat it surgically or with drugs lest they harm Joy irreparably. Joy was awake in her hospital bed, her head swathed in bandages. We read the passage in James to her, asked her to confess any sins she had committed. The only sins she could think of were disobeying her parents and being mean to her sister. All the deacons, her parents and I laid our hands on her head and body and prayed for God to forgive her sins, heal her, and spare her life. With that I poured the olive oil over her head bandages. We thanked her parents for their faith to take James 5 seriously and call for us to come and pray for Joy. We drove back home. The car ride was very quiet.
One week went by when Gary called from the hospital to report that the last scan showed that the tumor had stabilized and not grown at all. We were thrilled! One week later, he called to report that the tumor had inexplicably shrunk in half! The following week Joy came home; the tumor had disappeared! When the family came to church that Sunday, there was Joy in the back row with a stocking cap on her shaved head. During the announcements, Gary had asked if he could come to the pulpit and thank people for praying for Joy. He almost made it before breaking down in tears. Then Joy stood up and thanked people herself. I’ll never forget her words, “Thank you for praying for me. God healed me.” The congregation spontaneously erupted into shouts of praise, applause, and hugs. It was the only Sunday I can remember in which the sermon never got preached! It was lived!
Yes, I know that God can miraculously heal the sick,