Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remarkable Healing Incidents

Recently I personally experienced two remarkable healing events. One type of healing incident has occurred dozens of times throughout my life. Because such  healings have happened frequently, they are nonetheless remarkable. I speak of the ability of the human body to heal its wounds, cuts, and scrapes. Later in this essay I shall speak of a different, personal, one-of-a-kind healing episode which happened to me just a few days ago. Both incidents inspire a thoughtful sense of wonder.

Ever since I opened a deep gash on the back of my wrist installing an ultraslim TV screen in our living room I have marveled anew at the wound healing ability of the body. While installing the mounting hooks for the screen my hand wound up in an unexpected place. The gash was deep and long. Over several months the gash has healed with barely any evidence of its severity.

Many sources list the general sequences of wound healing. Knowledge of this process is a virtual medical specialty. The wonderful complexity of the process should not be neglected in the interest of brevity. Many sources, including Wikipedia, mention that “The classic process of wound healing is divided into three or four sequential, yet overlapping phases…upon injury to the skin a set of complex biochemical events takes place in a carefully orchestrated cascade to repair the damage.” It is as if all the different body cells are enlisted to know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. The sequential healing stages are little short of astonishing.

Over the Memorial Day weekend I experienced another healing episode I will not soon forget. Saturday morning I awoke during a thunderstorm in the middle of the night to find my right arm numb and without feeling. In the darkness I did not first believe it was really my arm. I thought it had fallen asleep and tried not to worry. Arising early I journeyed to the living room only to realize things were not right. My wife first mistook my gibberish statements as a joke. After a minute she called EMS, thankfully staffed by our neighbors a quarter mile away. They were at our home in less than five minutes.

That morning I journeyed to one hospital, and then to another in order to receive the very best care. For two days I was virtually unable to talk except in a few halting words. I could not speak my wife’s name, much less spell it. I could not repeat our hometown. I was unable to spell my name or give my wife directions to find the medical cards I had accidentally dropped between the driver’s seat and the console. For those two days in the hospital I did not have my ability to speak in a meaningful way. My right arm was somewhat functional, but not behaving normally. I had multiple medical tests to determine that I’d actually had two strokes. My wife left the hospital for home that first night thinking how our lives would change from then on. My children visited me on Sunday. There was not much significant difference in my condition.

Sunday evening I watched the NBA semi-finals but fell asleep. I slept very peacefully for about five hours. When I awoke I discovered I could speak normally and I practiced on my own to see if things were different. One nurse heard me talking in the room. When she came in about I told her I thought I was much better. She stated she also thought I was better and left excitedly for the desk to draft a report. Let’s cut to the chase: Since Monday morning my condition has been essentially normal. The fuzzy memories of two lost days have long vanished. I was sent home Monday afternoon.

My post of 5/9/12 was titled “Mundane Miracles,” written long before I experienced the events of past few days. This was before I reinforced again my personal beliefs in several types of miracles. They form a spectrum of beliefs from (1) ordinary events dependent on the everyday sustaining power of God to (2) events more directly dependent on God’s transforming power or even (3) God’s transcendent power. The term miracle is often overused and misunderstood. Many people use the term today in the sense of a transcendent miracle such as Christ’s miraculous healing of diseased people, the miracles of Peter and Paul, or the miracles performed by Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament.

It is the view of many theologians that in our day transcendent miracles are rare, but transformational miracles are more common and sustaining miracles are by far the most common. Transcendent scriptural miracles are responsible for the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and the healing of the withered, blind, or deaf. Transformational biblical miracles are those events which are truly extraordinary and unusual, such as the Old Testament plagues, the large catch of fish, and the Bethlehem Star. Finally, sustaining miracles occur around us every day, such as the wonderful development of plants and animals, the production of new generations of living things, and the supply of moisture to water the earth. Who could deny that we may recognize the “miracles” of growth or new life?

How may we relate to my stroke experience of the past few days? There is no question I have been healed, just as many people have been healed of diseases or have been healed of wounds, cuts, or scrapes. The cut on my wrist has healed, but there is yet a modicum of a scar where the original wound occurred. In my view a miracle has occurred in both my wrist and in my brain. It is not wise to dispute what kind of miracle has occurred. The Apostle Paul writes, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Rom. 14:8 NIV).  For this miracle, I give the ultimate glory to God!