Modern, educated folk tend to dismiss the miraculous, preferring to believe science will eventually provide a plausible explanation for the inexplicable. For the cynical, only the ignorant or gullible set out on desperate pilgrimages seeking cures or chase after Charismatic signs. Many Protestants think miracles were only for the age of dispensation of grace; for somber Calvinists, supernatural deeds are not performed today. However, there are countless, hidden souls who have experienced authentic miracles but they have been bullied into silence.
The Roman Catholic Church Believes in Miracles
At least Catholics believe theoretically in miracles. The word “miracle” comes from the Latin word for wonder and, literally means “a sight to behold” because they reveal the glory of God. The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs demonstrating that the Kingdom of Heaven had come to earth. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church 547-50 tells us: “Jesus accompanies His words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs,” which manifest that the kingdom is present in Him and attest that He was the promised Messiah (Acts 2:22)”.
The Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith, the oldest of nine congregations of the Roman Curia, was founded to defend the Church from heresy. It explains that belief in the miraculous has existed throughout the history of the Church and quotes St Augustine, an esteemed Doctor of the Church, who personally witnessed miraculous healings:
The Fathers of the Church considered it normal that believers would ask God not only for the health of their soul, but also for that of their body. With regard to the goods of life, health, and physical integrity, St. Augustine writes: «We need to pray that these are retained, when we have them, and that they are increased, when we do not have them.»(19) St. Augustine has also left us the testimony of a friend’s healing, obtained through the prayers of a Bishop, a priest, and some deacons in his house.(20)
The congregation even gives instructions on how to pray for healing.
I think the Almighty delights in shocking confirmed skeptics with surprise physical healings because miracles shatter their world view and often trigger a conversion. I was healed unexpectedly. Even though I professed a belief in the healing power of God, when I was healed, my whole life was turned upside down.
It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. Daniel 4:2-3
God Straightened My Spine
It is hard to believe, I know, but God healed my spine at a conference for Sunday School teachers. The crowd consisted of down-to-earth housewives, mothers, and some benevolent grandmotherly types. My friend and I were the only Catholics in the group which added to a feeling of alienation. I came grudgingly and I really did not expect to learn anything more than a few interesting tips on how to hold a child’s interest. Actually, I was pretty fed up with learning techniques. I needed to receive more from God because I was depleted. I did not need more facts. What I craved could not be taught and it did not look like it could ever happen in such a setting.
Then a nurse, with a freshly scrubbed face in running shoes and jeans, announced she had a gift of praying for people with crooked spines, scoliosis. My friend elbowed me and I shyly raised my hand only a little higher than my head. The nurse spotted me right away,”Come right up here to the front and I will pray with you for a physical healing.” I sighed and stood up front, trying to open my heart to God but feeling self-conscious and doubtful. As she prayed for me, I felt nothing- no heat or tingling, stretching or shifting of bones. When the nurse had me touch my toes again, I assumed I would fail this test. Instead, the nurse excitedly announced to the crowd, “Her spine is straight”. She smiled at the audience. Then she sat me down on a chair, “Look, your legs are now the same length. How do you feel?”
I was in shock as I stared at my one leg which had been 2-3 cm. shorter a moment ago. I reached back to feel my back; my spine seemed straighter but my mind started to race, as I wondered how this could be true. I did not feel anything. Surely if muscles and bones, never mind nerves moved and shifted, stretched and realigned, surely I would have felt something, wouldn’t I have? I ran to the washroom and looked in a huge mirror. Sure enough, my body looked completely different but my mind could not process what I saw in the mirror. So I did not allow myself to feel elated right away. Weeks later, when my chiropractor looked at my back and was struck dumb and my agnostic mother wept with shocked joy, then I allowed myself to relax and simply accept the bizarre with gratitude. I had to admit I was healed.
Signs and Wonders
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1
Signs and wonders strengthened the faith of the disciples in the gospels. Jesus promised future followers would perform even greater miracles than He did when they live in God and the Holy Spirit lives in them. As Saint Paul explains in Philippians 4:19, “my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Supernatural miracles happen when the children of God are desperate, without recourse to any other solution to solve their problems. As parents of a large family, we depend on Him to supply many of our basic necessities. Even our skeptical children concede God seems to provide in mysterious ways but we were all rattled by an unexpected miracle one winter.
The Oil Tank Never Ran Out
We kept the thermostat at 18 C (66 F) instead of 20 C (70 F) to conserve fuel because the woodstove was at the far end of the house, not in the middle. Since we usually topped the tank up every three to four weeks when it was really cold outside, we were worried about how long our oil would last. Of course, we were on edge and kept dashing down to the cellar to look at the fuel gauge but it did not move; that old furnace never stopped running. It was quite disconcerting. Finally, near the end of February, we relaxed and enjoyed this unexpected miracle right into April.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
Why Would God Multiply Decorative Panelling?
However, our third miracle was even more unnerving because we observed the inexplicable with our own eyes. Even my 21-year old daughter, who questions and argues about everything, still grudgingly admits that only a miracle could explain what happened at our house a few years ago.
This puzzling divine intervention was really frivolous. We would have simply made do without a miracle this time. When God supplied us with a multiplication of heating oil, we were desperate; we needed heat when it was -25 C outside in the middle of a Canadian winter but why would God multiply decorative panelling?
My husband, Michael, was installing oak wainscoting halfway up the wall in the bathroom, hall and down the main staircase of our 140-year old home. Unfortunately, even before the first landing in the stairwell, it was obvious there wasn’t enough oak to finish the job. We resigned ourselves to using a wider, lighter panel for at least one side of the stairwell. However, there was just as much of the oak left after Micheal finished both sides of the stairs as before he had even begun. The pile of wood simply never went down; the configuration of the stacked wood looked exactly the same as before he started the stairs. It was unnerving, to say the least. Just to make sure we realized the full ramifications of this divine intervention, the pile of cut ends was at least 2 m. high. This demonstration of extravagant love shocked us but God was probably laughing at our confusion and questions.
Why would God bother to work a miracle like this? Usually, any intervention from God in our lives has filled a real need. All we could come up with is that God is in charge and will meet all our needs effortlessly. It has nothing to do with fasting, prayer or our holiness but has everything to do with His grace, mercy, and sense of humor when we live as His children.
I have been privileged to witness three miracles so far in my life- a physical healing and a multiplication of heating oil and of wood. Even skeptical teenagers could not deny the power of God because all three miracles were “a sight to behold”, manifesting the glory of God. As for me, I am no longer afraid of future catastrophes either in nature or in society for I am a child of God and I can trust that whatever happens, God is in control.
Daniel 4:2-3 “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.