I mentioned the other day that God is doing ‘unusual’ miracles more and more these days, sometimes even without having to pray for a person. Before you jump all over me and tell me that ‘you MUST pray’, read this:
11 God worked unusual miracles through Paul. 12 People would take handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s skin to those who were sick. Their sicknesses would be cured, and evil spirits would leave them.
I find it a real blessing to find people, even in the crisis of terminal illness, who can laugh not about death, but still find humour in their pain and sickness.
A few years ago, I was in a big hospital in Cali, in the men’s medical ward – though the reality was it was more a palliative ward, as they’d all got AIDS, cancer, TB, and so on, and pretty much all had fairly imminent ‘death sentences’ over their lives. The first I came to was a guy named Rafael (just a hastily written scrap of paper over the head of his bed), with three weeping relatives at the other end of the bed. That can be – if you let it – quite a ‘faith killer’, and it’s why Jesus, and Peter, and – often – Smith Wigglesworth, cleared the room, so there’d be no unbelief to counteract faith.
The bed wasn’t particularly clean (understatement extremis!!!): Rafael looked as though he could be in a coma, and his skin was grey, not the lovely olive Latino colour. Often, in a situation like that, the temptation is to speak to the relatives, but personally, I can’t do that. I remember Alex & Peggy Buchanan doing a seminar – ‘Does she take sugar?’ – about the fact that disability, like Peggy’s (she was wheelchair-bound), often causes someone to talk to the person NOT in the wheelchair, with questions like their seminar title, as though the sick person is brain dead….
As I sat, I could imagine my mum panicking and telling me ‘You could catch something if you sit there! – burn your jeans when you get home!’ Bless her, mum often worried enough for about 20 people when she was still with us, and when I was going to certain countries! I put my hand on Rafael’s shoulder: he opened his eyes, a little surprised to see a gringo sitting on his bed. I used my Spanglish (it’s a bit more Spanish now than then!): ‘Hi, I’m Paul, I love to be here to pray for guys like you to be healed by God, and you don’t look to good Rafael….’ ‘I’m not, I have cancer.’ What’s the prognosis came next: 2-3 days to live.
Do you want to die, Rafael? Ho wold are you? 43, and no, I don’t want to die, but I don’t deserve to live, or be healed. Why? Once I was a Christian, but I backslid, drank too much, become a drug addict, and lived on the streets. What makes you think God won’t heal you? I’ve been bad. Well, I want to tell you that Jesus loves you, and your past is nothing to do with your present right at this moment, so can I pray for you please? Yes.
Where is your cancer, Rafael? I have cancer of the bowel, and the anus….. I normally ask if I lay my hands on the afflicted part, but perhaps, with you, I won’t! He laughed, and said, Please feel free to, everyone one else does!
And, as he laughed, he was healed, and went home with his family…. ok, I had my hand on him, but never prayed, just spoke of Jesus’ love…. Find it hard to believe? Well, the joy of the Lord IS our strength, right?? We limit God so, so much….
and, one of my heroes, Bill Johnson, says this:
- “When the power’s there…God arrives before your prayer”