I believe in the power of God.
Because I have witnessed Him work miracles.
I was sitting down with a student this past week that just started reading the Bible for the first time. She is in an extremely dark place in her life, desperate for any bit of hope or purpose. She asked me this question: When I read the Bible, I see so many times that someone just asked Jesus to be healed, and immediately He healed them. Why doesn’t He immediately heal me?
And so we face this question as a current reality in our American culture, and similar ones as well: The God we worship today looks very different than the Jesus of the Bible, doesn’t He? Miracles were for when Jesus was here, and now God doesn’t work that way anymore, right?
Let’s take a closer looks at one of these miracles in the Bible. In Mark 2:1-12, we see the famous story of Jesus healing a paralytic man. I’ll let Scripture tell the story:
And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts. Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”
—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
There are a few things I want to point out from this story about the reality of God as it pertains to how we live out our faith today.
- God still performs these physical miracles. We see Jesus heal the paralytic man in a moment, as He says, “Rise, pick up your bed, and walk.” I am declaring today that Jesus still moves in these big ways!
I’ll share a personal example. During my senior season on the KU Softball team, we were playing a Big 12 series against Oklahoma State. This series was a crucial point in our season for where we would finish in the Big 12 and trying to make the postseason. In my first at-bat of the series, and I was hit by a pitch directly in the elbow. For any non-softball players out there I’ll put this into perspective: Imagine a 12-inch hard ball coming at you 65 mph from 43 feet away, then nailing you straight in the elbow. Immediately, my bursa sac was ruptured, my elbow swelled to be extremely large and painful. I was taken out of the game, couldn’t move or lift my arm, let alone bare weight on it whatsoever. I didn’t play the rest of the game and our athletic trainer told my coach that there was no way I would play the next day. I was out for the weekend, at the least. Coming to terms with the devastating reality, that night at the hotel in Stillwater, Oklahoma, my sister Rosie and her now husband prayed for God to perform a miracle, that He would heal my elbow. I went to sleep, and the next morning, all of the swelling in my elbow was completely gone – as if nothing had happened. I could lift and bend my arm. I could swing a bat and felt no pain. Even my athletic trainer called it just what it was: a miracle.
Stories like these often have a shock factor and bring a wave of doubt. As I’ve explored Christianity in our world today over the years, I agree that they are indeed rare stories in the United States. Yet in other countries, these kind of physical miracles are happening on a regular basis! My husband and I support missionaries abroad through an organization called Gospel for Asia and get regular updates on the ministry work that is happening in Nepal and India. Over and over I read the following situation: A person is sick or ill. They’ve prayed to various gods and seen witch doctors and no one could heal them. Then a GFA missionary prays over them, and immediately or with time, they are completely healed. Jesus is revealing Himself to these people by healing them of their illnesses and diseases, and then an entire household will come to faith in a town where previously no other Christians existed!
If we truly believe in the power of God, we must believe that God still has the power to perform these miracles in our world today. I don’t know why, for example, He chose to heal my elbow that day but say no to a recent prayer that He would heal a friend of mine from cancer. That friend of mine just passed away. God didn’t heal her, physically anyway. But what I do know is that God is sovereign, He wants us to ask Him to move in big ways in any and every situation, and He wants to open our eyes to see His power.
I am also not hopeless when God doesn’t answer a physical miracle because He demonstrates Himself in even more profound ways. Read on.
- The miracle of spiritual transformation is even more overwhelming. These physical miracles happen, yes, but to me there are more profound miracles that I witness every day, right here in Lawrence, Kansas. I have seen time after time, God completely transform my own life and the life of my friends. Emotional pain that I thought I would never heal from, He has healed me from. I have seen lives of my friends who have faced the unfathomable – rape, abuse, death of loved ones, depression, anxiety, self-harm – all experience joy and healing from their past by choosing to believe and put their faith in God. To me, that is much more miraculous than the Lord healing my elbow so I could play a few more softball games.
I’ll share another miracle I’ve witnessed. Yet this one is better explained in a picture.
This picture will likely never be my profile picture on Facebook or framed on my wall. But I cherish this photo. My face says it all – the emotion of pure grace – the witnessing of a miracle. I was once in a very dark place. A rock bottom kind of place, face-to-face with a mess I had created for myself. I was lost and ashamed because of past sexual sin and living in lies. I thought I would never be worthy of being loved and cherished by a man who truly followed God. Then this happened. Jesus came and healed me, I put my trust in Him, and He made me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). On this day, He said to me (in a way parallel to Mark 3),
“My daughter, your sins are forgiven. Rise, put on your white dress, and walk.”
Believe my testimony when I say this: God. works. miracles.
- The ultimate power of God was displayed when Jesus rose from the dead. After three days buried in a tomb, the Man who lived a sinless life and claimed to be God defeated death and conquered the grave. He bore our sin on the Cross when He died. In the miracle of the resurrection, Jesus proved to be God.
I could go on and on about the resurrection and further explaining the profound mystery of the gospel, but this entry is getting lengthy, so I’ll hold back for now. However, I can’t not at least briefly mention the greatest miracle of all when talking about God’s power! But my point is this: Miracles exist to point us back to God and who He is. He demonstrates His power in certain moments because He wants to reveal Himself to us. He wants us to seek Him. He wants us to draw near to Him and seek out the relationship that He created us for.
- He proves His power in our own lives and in our own stories – when we allow Him to. We must surrender our own control and our own ability to think we can change or fix things. We must let go and let God work. We must ask for the Holy Spirit to come alive inside of us and change us from the inside out. We must spend time in prayer, in the Word of God, and in community. And when we hear from Him, we must have the discipline to repent and obey.
As we see His power at work, our faith is strenghtened. A verse in 1 Corinthians 2:5 says that our faith needs not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God! Acknowledging His power, we have faith that says I am weak but He is strong. I am limited, but He is limitless. For man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Time and time again we see: He heals, He provides, He restores, and He redeems.
Lastly, I’ll share the good news with you that I got to share with my student last week: Jesus can heal you immediately when you ask! Yet even if He chooses not to, He still promises that in the middle of the mess, you are not alone. He is there and He is at work in you when you simply place your faith in Him. Since that conversation, some of the circumstances may not have changed in her life, but even in just the last week, He’s transforming her spiritually and giving her hope. She’s experiencing joy in the midst of darkness. That, my friends, is a miracle.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20
**This post is modified from a talk given at KU Young Life College club on September 22, 2016, as pictured in top photo.