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Miracles not only reveal God’s intervention, they reveal His character, His foreknowledge, His power and His love. Some years ago, I began collecting miracle stories from friends and family.
As you read them, keep in mind that miracles are specialized to our individual education and needs, and above all, they are subject to the Father’s will and timing. It is a useless exercise to compare our situation to another’s, but nevertheless, being reminded that God is a God of miracles can be a valuable lesson.
Here are a few examples:
One of the things that I miss most about my husband is holding hands. It has now been almost six years since his death and I still find myself instinctively reaching for his steadying, comforting hand.
We were walking hand-in-hand one day on our way to the Philippines Temple, where we were serving as missionaries. Suddenly my husband’s leg began to cramp and he almost fell. He quickly reached out for me to steady himself and then began to massage the leg vigorously. After achieving a measure of relief, he was able to hobble to the temple to go to work. Throughout the day, he rubbed and favored his cramping leg.
The leg vexed him for days to come. “Old age,” he would complain as he tried to work through the pain and continue his work in the temple. Previous experiences had soured him on the local medical care, so he had decided to wait until we returned from our mission to consult his regular doctors.
Because my husband had had a history of heart problems, diagnostic testing in the United States was extensive. He entered the hospital for a series of x-rays and CAT scans to determine the reason for the ongoing cramping. One day, after a battery of tests, he was wheeled into a hallway because the hospital was crowded and there were no available recovery rooms. As he lay on the gurney, I held his hand and waited. Soon, a medical professional approached us carrying film.
“What’s the prognosis?” my husband asked.
“A blockage at your knee,” was the reply. “Veins, arteries-all blocked off.”
“What can be done?”
“There is a bypass procedure, but it’s experimental.”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
“We’ll just have to lop it off.” With those words the professional made slicing motion with his arm as though it was a guillotine. Having delivered his message, he walked away without emotion as if this was commonplace news that he was used to offering.
My husband fell into an immediate and deep depression. Lop it off! That meant amputation at the knee. My husband was an organist and a temple worker. How would he play? How would he work? We checked out of the hospital and went home discouraged and frightened. It was obvious that the medical community did not have a solution. Beyond the poor choice of words, the message was clear: in order to save my husband’s life, his leg would have to be sacrificed. We now knew that only an appeal to God could help. No earthly skill seemed to be available to save the leg.
We called for the Elders, two trusted friends. In tears my husband explained to them the diagnosis, then he asked, “Will you bless me?”
All of us dedicated a day to prepare for the blessing. We prayed, fasted, and took our petition to the temple. That evening we met together to pray again and seek the Lord’s direction. Then the holy ordinance of anointing was performed, followed by the sealing. When the blessing was confirmed, the promised words of healing came: “Let the blood, the life-giving blood, course through your veins and reach into every part of your body.Thereafter, we sought another doctor’s advice. After he had conducted more tests we met for consultation. It was true, he said, the veins and arteries at the knee were irreversibly clogged…but he could feel a faint pulse in the toes! The leg was yet alive!
“How can it be?” we asked.
“Somehow your body has set up an alternate circulation system, and the blood is being carried through your leg by the capillaries.”
“And the amputation?”
“You will not lose your leg!”
That day I think we held each other’s hands more tightly than we ever had before. We held hands and walked out of the doctor’s office grateful to God for his kindness and intervention. For ten more wonderful years, we continued hold hands and walk together.
O Ye of Little Faith
One Friday afternoon I was paged to the Emergency Room, where doctors were frantically working on a gentleman who had just had a massive stroke. I was the hospital chaplain. Soon, four of the man’s family members arrived screaming, wailing, sobbing and accusing each other of causing the stroke. I realized immediately that this was going to be one of my more challenging cases.
When the man was taken to surgery, I ushered the family into a separate room and spoke to them at length, trying to calm them. I told them to wait there while I went to the surgery room and to find out what was happening. Before I could leave them, however, the man’s wife asked if I would offer a prayer for her husband. I agreed. We bowed our heads and I began to speak. During the prayer, something incredible happened: I felt prompted to promise that the man would recover. When I ended the prayer and looked up, I could see that the family’s countenance had noticeably brightened. Then a shock of anxiety shot through me. I excused myself and headed for Surgery.
When I saw the physicians emerging, removing their surgical hats and gloves, I could tell from the expression on their faces that the prognosis was bleak. The man had indeed suffered a massive stroke and the surgeons said that there was no hope of recovery. The term “vegetable” was used. Then the words of my prayer began to haunt me. I was a professional; I knew better than to feed loved ones false hope. I also knew how volatile and emotionally frail this family was. I began to concoct a plan to amend the things I had said in the prayer. At length I decided that I would relate what the doctors had said about the man’s condition and suggest that we have another prayer. During the prayer I would set the record straight. I would be careful to say nothing about recovering.
When I visited with the family again, I did not have to suggest another prayer; they requested it! They said they had been so comforted by my first prayer that they wanted me to pray for their husband and father again. I swallowed hard and obliged. During the prayer I struggled to choose my words carefully. I thought I was doing fine until I was once again prompted to repeat the promise of recovery. I looked up to smiles and relief. My dilemma was increasing: I knew that I had received promptings, but I also knew what the doctors were saying.
I politely excused myself and headed toward the recovery room to learn from the seasoned nurses about this man’s true condition.
“Terminal,” I was told. “It is just a matter of time.”
I felt sick inside. I was confused. I returned to the family and stayed with them until the man was moved the man to Intensive Care. Late that Friday afternoon, when it was time for me to go home, I summoned the courage to ask the family if I could once more offer a prayer. They agreed, and, as I bowed my head, I thought to myself, “Now is your last opportunity to clarify this man’s situation and prepare the family for the inevitable. Whatever you do, don’t say he is going to recover from this stroke!”
But I couldn’t follow through. To my dismay I felt prompted to make the same promise. Dismayed, I left for home assuming that by the time I returned on Monday morning the man would have died.
I had no peaceful weekend. I was nervous. I was more nervous when I returned to work on Monday. Would the man have passed away? Would his family be distraught? When I approached the front desk I tentatively checked the roster, and amazingly the man was still alive and in Intensive Care.
His wife and a son greeted me and we stepped inside room to the man’s bedside.
“He is still in a coma,” his wife whispered, “but we are so comforted by your prayers. Would you mind offering another one here?”
I agreed and prayed as she had requested and, for the fourth time, the same words of assurance flowed from my mouth. I had no sooner finished than the man opened his eyes, sat up in bed, looked at his son said, “What are you smiling at knucklehead?”
I walked out of the room and said to myself, “O ye of little faith.”
Changing Wine to Water
When she was twenty, my mother worked the night shift as a telephone operator. She was an LDS girl and had made a decision to obey the Word of Wisdom and never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages–not even once. But she worked with a rather rough crowd and one woman in particular always chided her for her goodie-goodie attitude. She constantly tried to get my mother to drink or smoke. But Mother stood firm.
One evening, all the night shift workers, including my mother, had planned a party up in the canyon several hours before their shift began. Grandma-my mother’s mother–was shopping that afternoon and suddenly received a powerful spiritual prompting that something bad would happen to her daughter at that party and that she should not attend. Grandma quickly jumped in her car and hurried home only to find that her daughter had already left with her friends for the canyon. Because Grandma did not know the location of the party, she realized that her only recourse was to pour out her soul in prayer and ask God to protect her daughter from whatever bad experience was awaiting her. During her prayer, she felt a calming influence that told her that her daughter would be protected. So she retired to bed.
Grandma didn’t see my mother until the next morning.
“How was the party?” Grandma asked.
“Oh, it was great fun,” my mother answered, “but something unusual happened just before I came home from work. I don’t quite know what to make of it. This morning I was in one of the stalls in the restroom when that woman who always needles me about not drinking alcohol came in with some of the other workers. She was very angry, and she was swearing and cursing. I heard her say, I don’t know what happened! But I’m going back to that liquor store and demand my money back. I stood right there and watched the clerk pour liquor into my pop bottle, but when I opened it last night there was only water in it!”
Grandma wept, wrapped her arms around her daughter, and said, “We need to kneel down and give thanks. Then I have a story to tell you.”