Perspectives of miracles and suffering from a seasoned Charismatic Christian.
If I had a magic wand like the historical characters in the Bible had with prayer, then my little brother’s cancer would be gone.
The wand for my late friend, Mark Typa, whose cancer ravished his body and stole him away. A wish to have walked in his room earlier and confidently stated that he is healed, just like Jesus did with St. Peter’s mother-in-law. Then later to play billiards and have him annihilate me in yet another game.
And Johannes, I would like to call out, as Jesus did with Lazarus, and bring his wife and child to life again. A tragic end wrought by a car accident. Johannes elected to lay a rose on their coffin before the casket was lowered. He hesitated and briefly refused in tears because it just wasn’t fair. He was right, and we agreed. Our sorrow almost filled the Red River.
A miracle for the woman who needed money to get milk for her newborn. She was saddened that my regular duties did not bring a cheque to her mailbox. I would like to do as Jesus did. “Yes, I can help” and then add, “just go inside and take out the fish you have inside the fridge, and you will find inside its mouth more than enough money to cover your needs.”
Robert, who lost both his parents at a young age and forty years or so later, wishes he would hear his mother speak to him once more. I’d wave the wand for him to not only hear her voice but to see and touch her again.
It would be for the Jimmies out there for healing and walk out of the hospital. For example, the Jimmy I knew, his body was emaciated because of AIDS and struggled to make each breath. His bed was in the corner of a dark room. He had no mother beside him to pull up his sheets when he was cold. There was no one to read from a magazine, bring a radio, or set up a television. His family didn’t know his plight, and he refused to inform them. Shame and sadness were in his eyes. I would like to be like Jesus with the paralytic and say, “you are healed. Pick up your blankets and walk out of here.”
It would be for Rachel to let her know that she is loved. Fatherless all her life, she gathered the courage to find him and succeeded. She dared to phone. “Hi Dad, it’s me.” “That is nice,” he said, thanking her for the call and asking that she never call again. He was a successful teacher with children from another partner. She was sacrificed at his altar of success.
A healing prayer for all those struggling with some form of mental illness. Like Sharon, whose world was distinctly separate from the real one. She didn’t like being on Mars, nor did we want her there. If only a Jesus moment happened where a prayer would exorcise such thoughts. Like Jesus did with the man who cut himself with stones. I wish it would be that easy.
Suffering is so multi-dimensional. The condition attacks all the vitals—bodies, soul, and spirit–a literary answer will never suffice. The answers, including this one, only come in pieces and crumbs.
I have come to learn that we are dealing with a power that is above time and eternity. The clock ticks on our lives while He has no clock. How can you ask God about extending someone’s time on earth when He has no watch? We speak about time. He does not and likely cannot comprehend such an entity.
He is a God who has set the natural laws in order and rarely suspends them. He seldom intercedes in cause and effect. If He did, then we would not need miracles. Neither does He change or alter our choices which can bring on untold sufferings. We can drop a bomb on Hiroshima, kill an ethnic race, or destroy every tree or fish until none. He does not stop such evil.
Neither does he reward goodness which is sometimes more significant, other times smaller, or equal to that of evil in our lives and world. Yet, these moments do not move God to be extraordinarily kind. He does not extend the lives with those of virtue nor reward all the magnificent acts of humankind with the lifting or absence of suffering.
One must have cognizance that this is a general rule with many exceptions.
Since the fall of humankind, humanity has learned that creation is now dysfunctional; even the laws of nature are not entirely predictable or fair.
God must have feeling, and I have to apply my own human experience to this—limited that may be. God weeps whenever a man places a rose on a coffin. He cries when my brother, with three young children, is stricken with cancer. He is angry when a Dad spurns his daughter. He feels the loneliness of the man dying quietly because of AIDs. He groans when the earth is split with radioactive thunder.
If He does have a wide range of emotions, why is He so distant and remote while we suffer so much? If I could wave the wand, I would like Him to explain.
There is something yet more to ponder. Time is going to end. Our transformed souls await the new world, and the whole earth groans for it. A place of no suffering, where all humans don’t compete for the same meager resources. A place where cancer and death do not permeate our lives.
Everything so far points to a predetermined world and future, which feels pointless and fateful. Yet, there is one area that is in our domain. How we affect others and engage the world are the only realms we have some semblance of power.
There will be a time where God reconciles all things. A moment where He considers our actions and how we treat others, such as Rachel’s dad. A solace that God does not sit back and let injustice pile upon injustice.
Yes, I have prayed for all these people above, wishing God would hear and act. Nature nor circumstance was not lifted or changed at my prayers. Saint Peter and even his shadow could bring about miracles. Why can’t I today?
The question strikes at the very nature of miracles. Miracles are the suspension of nature and its laws of order. If God answered all our prayers, then miracles would cease. We would not need doctors, and immortality would be upon us.
A miracle cannot often happen, or else it is not a miracle anymore. In short, I may never see an outright miracle in my lifetime. Perhaps, I have seen and experienced many small ones that are unobserved or left off as chance. The big ones like Lazarus rising from the dead, no. Over the years, I have observed hundreds, if not a thousand, prayers for miraculous healing, but nothing verifiable that obviously broke the rules of nature.
Peter and his first-century comrades were exceptions because they got to walk, talk, and even touch Jesus. Afterwards, the Christian story, including Paul’s letters, indicates a more sombre and less miraculous tome.
One must never wholly eradicate the Lazarus kind of prayer. Such action is a slim possibility, but we should try. Then it begs the question, what should we usually expect from prayer? I don’t know, and we don’t have control over what God decides. We are just encouraged to pray.
God acts in His own accord and cannot be measured in a pattern or told what to do. When a prayer is lifted to Him, it is uplifted to a power that knows big and little pictures. He does not think in black and white like we do. Why, when, and where, we shall never understand.
Yes, I will pray and attempt to ask with sincerity and not demand any response. Perhaps, God may intervene and grant a miracle through me. One of those ones in a million things. I hope so, but I am prepared for His sovereignty to work in other ways.
My soul is both agitated and content. The questions run deep, but they do not possess me.
One must accept that some things in life are too big for a finite mind. There is a point where one has to accept the limitations.
This state of consciousness is with windows to the real world around me.
I restlessly remain in this place.
*some names are changed, but the realities are true.
The entry is an exception to most articles on the blog, which usually focus on comparing literature throughout the centuries. The emphasis here is on mysticism and personal experience rather than an intellectual or philosophical journey. It is hoped regular readers will grant me this indulgence.
This article is dedicated to my brother, whose cancer is in remission, and Mark Typa. A faithful and authentic man, even to the end. He died on December 20, 2021.