Note: This is the preface to my new book, What Prayer Can Do, a collection of my articles about miracles published in The Pentecostal Evangel over my writing career. Sometimes the miracles we wanted, don't happen--but God still works in our lives. He gave us supernatural peace and joy after we lost our daughter to cancer, and that's a miracle. Jesus came to defeat death and He did! As with the thief on the cross, our Carolyn immediately went into God's presence and will return when Jesus comes with His saints in the catching away of the church."The dead in Christ will arise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Him in the air, and we will always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Her spirit will go into the remains of her body, and she will rise and precede the living saints rising into the air! And we'll always be with her and the Lord! Furthermore, as 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, we'll know one another.
What a hope!
By Ada Brownell
Author’s Note: This was not among articles published by The Pentecostal Evangel, but it did appear in an online version of Enrichment Magazine.
Editor’s Note: An honest look at Scripture can teach us valuable lessons concerning healing. Journey with this author as she discovers some lessons on healing.
God heals some and He does not heal others. This mystery confuses many, and the body of Christ sometimes staggers under a spirit of unbelief.
I’ve entered that valley, too, but as a Christian and retired medical reporter, I still believe in miracles.
My faith journey began as a child. My friend, Velda Jean Bailey, was stricken with leukemia. My brother-in-law told me about her condition. “The doctors say Velda Jean probably has only two or three weeks to live.”
A woman in my home church tearfully requested prayer for my friend.
A few days later, Velda’s grandfather had been praying with her when her mother saw a change come over her daughter.
“She looked as if new blood were going into her veins,” her mother recalled.
Velda’s symptoms disappeared and the parents asked for new tests. Diagnostics revealed Velda was completely healed. She was alive the last I heard—25 years later.
Our daughter, Gwen, didn’t need tubes surgically inserted into her ears after she went forward for prayer. Our youngest daughter Jeanette’s elbow was healed so that it no longer slipped out of the joint when someone pulled on her arm.
Years later, our granddaughter, Melissa, suffered from croup. Our son, Gary, and his wife, Janice, were moving from Denver and due to be in Tulsa, so they left despite a blizzard blowing in. Gary drove the truck and Janice followed in the car. I and Janice’s mother went to our knees in prayer.
Snow fell so fast as Janice followed the truck the windshield wipers wouldn’t keep the windshield cleared. Janice had to stick her head out the window in order to see, bringing the cold air in on Melissa and her little brother, Justin.
When they arrived in Tulsa safely, Janice called us.
“How is Melissa?” I asked.
“The croup is gone. She’s not sick anymore.”
I’d heard sometimes cool moist air helps chest congestion—but cure a fevered child with croup?
We’ve had numerous times when physicians thought a member of our family was in trouble physically. A few years ago, a medical test showed Gary had only 40 percent kidney function, but after prayer, a specialist found nothing wrong. Gary never had kidney problems again, it’s been twenty years. More recently after a cancer diagnosis for a different problem, he was declared cancer free.
At about age 30, Gwen had symptoms of multiple sclerosis. After prayer and many tests, physicians said she was fine—and she is fine, 15 years later.
Our six younger grandchildren are miracles, and I believe it’s because God answers prayer. Complications during their mothers’ pregnancy could have endangered four of their lives or their future, but God intervened. Two other grandchildren came to us through the miracle of adoption.
With five children, and now grandchildren, we’ve had so many medical problems changed from serious to insignificant after prayer I can’t list them all. Yet, Carolyn, our oldest daughter, died at age 31 of an aggressive form of lymphoma, and our son, Jaron, has suffered from asthma since age 2.
But I still believe for Jaron’s healing and know God heals.
I’ve been a student of the Bible almost all my life and although answers to why some are healed and some are not is a mystery, the Word explains a great deal about healing and miracles.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1. All humankind is destined to die because of sin. God told Adam and Eve if they ate of the forbidden tree, they would die. Satan, the liar, said, “You won’t die! God just wants to keep something good from you!” (my translation) Adam and Eve ate and became mortals. We, as their offspring, inherited the curse of sin. Read about it in Genesis 3.
I like the way the King James Version explains in Romans 8:22 how our mortality affects us: “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
2. Healing is in the atonement. Centuries before Jesus came Isaiah prophesied, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). Peter quoted the verses and said, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Our Savior knows what it is to suffer. They plucked his beard and tore flesh off His back with a whip for our healing. Yet, even before pain gripped His body from the nails in his hands, and the other torture He endured on the cross, Jesus had compassion and healed many among the multitudes that followed Him.
3. An atmosphere of doubt interferes with God’s Spirit working among us. Jesus Himself couldn’t do many miracles in Nazareth because of a spirit of unbelief (Matthew 13:57-58). In Luke’s description of the Lord’s visit to His home town in Nazareth, Jesus told how many lepers in Israel needed healing, but only one—Naaman—was healed. The heavens were shut up to many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, but because of unbelief Elijah was sent to only one--the widow of Zarephath.
Jesus does have the power for miracles among a throng of doubters, but we often absorb the unbelief.
4. What our minds feed on affects our personal faith. Romans 10:16-18 tells us faith comes through hearing the word of God. Much of the church today attends services an hour and a half a week. We complain about 45-minute sermons and have no time for prayer in the altars, but spend several hours each day watching TV but we’ll sit outside in a snow storm for three hours to watch a football game. Romans 8:6, 7 indicates when we allow our flesh to take charge of our minds; it interferes with walking after the Spirit.
5. We build our faith remembering miracles God has done. In every church and prayer group I’ve attended “these signs, including healing, have followed them that believe” (Mark 16:17). One time I was asked to speak about prayer to the youth group. Instead of speaking, I asked a half dozen people with testimonies of God’s intervention in a crisis.
The father of a large family who worked on a highway crew urgently prayed because the weatherman had forecast rain and he couldn’t work in the rain. Rain followed the paving machine all day, but it never rained where they worked.
Several told of miraculous healings—two where doctors had given no hope. One woman told how God turned away a forest fire racing toward their house as she and the children stood at the window praying and repeating Psalm 91. I later wrote their testimonies for The Pentecostal Evangel in a story, “What Prayer Can Do.”
Yet, a serious diagnosis such as cancer of the pancreas strikes faith-paralyzing fear. I believe part of that is Satan’s “spin” on truth. Like every expert of propaganda, he uses a smidgeon of truth in his destructive lies. While treatments have advanced, cancer of the pancreas has meant almost certain death. But Gospel Singer Jimmy Blackwood, son of James Blackwood, was healed of pancreatic cancer in 1984. I interviewed him about it for the newspaper where I worked. Jimmy is still singing.
6. We have a drought of God’s power because we don’t seek the Gifts of healing, faith and miracles. God gives the Gifts to those for whom He has a specific purpose but He also tells us to ask for them (1 Corinthians 12). Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
7. Lack of fasting and prayer affects spiritual outcomes. In Ezra’s time Israel fasted and prayed for God’s protection over their families (Ezra 8:20-22). The disciples couldn’t cast out demons because they didn’t fast and pray before they went out (Mark 9:28, 29). God is able to do more than we can ask or think, but it is according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20-21). According to the Word, prayer and fasting increases that power.
8. Although we know our sin doesn’t cause most sicknesses, sin could cause us to be sick or even die. Paul wrote, “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:29--31).
When, however, some people witnessed the healing of a blind man and asked who sinned, the man or his parents, Jesus said, “Neither, so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).
9. Some people aren’t healed or delivered because of “the greater good.” For instance, when our oldest daughter was near death from cancer she left a witness. Four people gave their lives to Christ and others recommitted themselves to God. When people experience a death close to them, they realize their own mortality and need of a Savior.
10. Often God uses faith and works and we should give Him credit for these miracles. James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:14-16). I was prayed for several times because of knee pain. When I had knee replacements, the pain disappeared. Medications along with God’s mercy have helped Jaron live triumphantly with asthma for 40 years. I consider that a gift from God.
I believe the knowledge of physicians today is given by the Lord and furthermore, it is a sign of Christ’s coming. God told Daniel, But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
On the medical beat at the newspaper where I worked, over and over I was told how physicians couldn’t do much for diseases and medical conditions until the 20th Century. The most important things that changed health and longevity, according to physicians I’ve interviewed, are clean water, immunizations and antibiotics—but God also has given wisdom for marvelous diagnostics, medications, and treatments.
11. Sometimes healing doesn’t come because we’re being tested, as Job was.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7 NKJ).
12. God’s sovereignty means He always has the last word. God has the last word in everything, including how many days we live. We have promises all over the Bible about healing which we can grasp and believe, but we have to put the whole Bible together for correct doctrine. It should give us comfort, and not fear, to know everything is in His hands. “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
But His “last words” to His children always are words of love (See John 3:16).
-- Originally published in the online Enrichment Journal, the Assemblies of God magazine for Spirit-filled ministers.