Wednesday, February 18, 2015

God Still Heals

Dear Friends,

A man lays in an intensive care unit. He’s a big, strong red-headed man who has done physical labor all his life and had been in perfect health just a few days ago. Now he is still and pale. His freckled skin is dry and hot to the touch. He is in respiratory failure and can no longer breathe on his own. The chest is moving in time to clicks of the mechanical ventilator forcing oxygen into the failing lungs. He’s been diagnosed with a rare disease that quickly developed into viral pneumonia. There is no cure for what he has and the fatality rate is about the same as Ebola. The body must be able to fight off the virus on its own or death will quickly occur. The man is heavily sedated in a drug-induced coma. Nothing to do but wait and see. The medical team offers no prognosis, no time line of anticipated events, no encouragement, no hope. The man’s wife is a registered nurse. She understands. The doctors say nothing to her about her husband’s rapidly declining condition but their silence speaks in ways that communicate an inevitableness of what’s to come. His body has been unable to fight off the infection and his physical systems are shutting down. Without the mechanical ventilator inflating his lungs, he would already be dead.

The wife is very afraid. Both she and her daughter are disabled and her husband holds their fragile lives together. She vacillates back and forth between denial and despair. She’s feeling a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. God seems so far away right now and she can’t recall the prayers she learned as a small child. She’s not sure what good her prayers would do anyway. Her Catholic upbringing has taught her that only a priest can pray for the sick. In desperation she cries out to the spirit of her own deceased father to intercede for her dying husband. There is no response from the spirit world. Nothing but the quiet and persistent click of the respirator. 

The only indication of life is the jagged lines cutting across the faces of the monitors and the flashing digital readouts. The doctors are careful to allow no change of expression register on their face as they view the latest chest x-rays in the wife’s presence. They don’t need to say anything to her. She can see the ever-darkening areas within the pale, whitish outline of the lungs. From their murmured conversations she knows that her husband will not live through the night. The wife begins to prepare herself for the inevitable outcome. The irreversible process of death has begun and there’s nothing that can be done. Through the window, she sees the sun setting in a darkening sky and starts to cry again. Then a nurse tells her that a man is there to see her husband...

A man has come from her husband’s work. He’s now in the ICU room and the wife unexpectedly says, “Will you pray for him?” He lays one hand on the man’s chest, puts the other on the wife’s shoulder and with his prayer, quietly brings God’s presence into the room along with the healing touch of Jesus Christ. He acknowledges that the doctors have done all they can and he prays for a healing miracle. The morphine has induced a deep coma and the man has not moved a muscle within the past few hours. But during the prayer, his eyes rapidly flicker back and forth under the eyelids and his left foot begins to twitch under the white sheet. The man finishes his prayer with a petition for God to bring a measure of peace and comfort to the wife and for her to have faith now that her husband is in the hands of a loving God. Before the man leaves, he spends a few more minutes in the hallway speaking to the wife about her faith in God...

Back in the ICU, a three-day downward spiral toward death has been immediately arrested. The ICU staff notices an immediate slight improvement on the monitors. Within a few hours, they reduce the oxygen from 100% to 70%. The blood is now becoming more oxygenated with the respirator at 70% then it was at a full 100%. The next morning, the oxygen is reduced to 50%, and before the end of the day, the respirator is removed. He’s breathing on his own again. The doctors shake their heads in disbelief at new x-rays of the rapidly clearing lungs and tell the wife there has been a “spontaneous remission of symptoms.” Three days later the man goes home. The wife calls the one who prayed and tells him that his prayer healed her husband. She has mistakenly given the credit for the miraculous healing to the man who prayed and he tells her that God alone is the One who heals. 

Let me tell you something about the man who prayed because believe me this guy’s definitely no spiritual giant. He was caught off guard by the unexpected request to pray and kind of sputtered around for a moment until the Holy Spirit took over and began to give him the words. God just used a very ordinary Christian guy that day. And I know all this for a fact because the guy that prayed was me and God gets all the glory for that miracle. It’s not the prayer.. it’s not the pray-er.. it’s God who heals. And, if He can use me to pray a prayer that ushered in the healing power of God, He can use you...

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