September 7, 2003
It's a Miracle!
Nancy Hassett Dahm
Miracles happen every day to ordinary people living ordinary lives. So why don't we hear more about these incredible events? Perhaps people want to keep secret what is most precious and private to them. Or perhaps there is a fear of being called a zealot, and therefore not to be taken seriously. Or maybe as a society, we have outgrown our sensitivity to things beyond our understanding and control. Whatever the reasons for not revealing what would be considered by many to be miracles, we should reconsider and tell all. Why? We should reveal miracles in order to keep hope alive, to keep faith alive, and to keep the belief in possibilities alive.
Just what exactly is a miracle? The Baker's Dictionary of the Bible defines a miracle as "an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary states that a miracle is "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs."
Now that we know what a miracle is, how many people believe they occur? A 2003 Harris Poll survey of 2,201 adults found that 84 % of the American public believes in miracles. It's interesting that many people believe in miracles without ever having experienced one. It is enough to know that it has happened to others for a belief system to manifest itself as a self-held truth.
It was long theorized that science and matters of divine supernatural nature do not mix well. Today, medicine, natural healing, prayer, and miracles are becoming less delineated and more incorporated into the culture of everyday life. Though there are skeptics in our midst, there are more and more professional caregivers who are willing to acknowledge that divine intervention may well be the reason for many unexplained medical recoveries.
Scientists have been studying the effects of prayer on the body for decades. Prayer and meditation can have an effect on the physiological function of the body by lowering stress, blood pressure, heart rate, and producing a sense of well being. People who pray and meditate improve their health because of the positive benefits of tuning out a stressed environment.
But can prayer and meditation cure an affliction? Can prayer and meditation make miracles happen? This is definitely something that cannot be proven under any circumstances. The closest thing to an explanation is that something has occurred to interfere in the probable course of an event.
The subject of the effects of prayer is gaining momentum in the halls of science, where studies are being conducted in the power of prayer to heal. There have been studies conducted on the effects of remote prayer and healing. In these studies, people who are ill are prayed for by others without their knowledge. There is already considerable evidence from these studies to support the idea that remote prayer somehow does make a positive difference. Prayer studies have doubled in recent years. Even the National Institutes of Health is conducting a prayer study.
When a big prayer is answered, can we prove it was a miracle? To those of us who have received one, we need no proof. We just know that it was. The experience is one of an internal recognition that is so indescribably profound as to alter your life forever. I revel in the belief that I was blessed with not one, but several miracles during the course of my life. When I was 22 years old, I tried to resuscitate my father, who had suddenly fallen lifeless. After many failed attempts, I feared he was dead. While on my last try, I yelled out in desperation for Heaven's help. Then my father finally gasped in air! Later, I learned he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and had stopped breathing. He recovered six weeks later without surgery.
Another time I prayed for my mother's life when much of her heart was damaged after suffering several heart attacks in a single day. I pleaded, bargained, begged, and offered myself in her place-anything to get heard. They say prayers are always answered. Sometimes the answer is no. That day the answer was yes. She lived happily for another 22 years!
Shortly after my mother passed away, I was working as a nurse. I was alone in the operating room, preparing for the next patient when thoughts of my mother filled me (she too had been a nurse). I prayed to her for a sign that she was happy in Heaven and I asked her to close the hole in my heart as her sign. The hole was a defect that I had since birth, but this defect was a catalyzing factor that forged a strong mother-daughter love in my youth. Soon after my request for a sign, a rare turn of events took place. Several co-workers came rushing towards me with another nurse in tow, exclaiming excitedly that this nurse too had a hole in his heart! Kidding, I bet him that my murmur was louder than his. Putting my stethoscope over the area that would produce the loudest swish, I listened to my heart in disbelief. For the first time in my life, I heard a normal heartbeat: thump thump, thump thump, thump thump. "It's gone, it's gone! You don't understand, it's gone! " I cried out. "You'd better go to the doctor," he said. The next day, a physical checkup revealed that the hole in my heart somehow had closed! I knew that was a miracle. Over the years, four physicians could come up with no explanation for the healing, and said that in their opinion, it was a miracle. For me, the miracle was the sign that my mother was happy in Heaven.
Then there is Rosie from California who was diagnosed with uterine cancer that had metastasized to her liver and lung. She was given six months to live. One rainy day at a book-signing event, the artist Thomas Kinkade stopped everything to hold an impromptu prayer session after hearing about Rosie from her friend. She has been cancer-free since that day, four years ago. You can read the entire story of Rosie at www.cancerbook.com.
End-stage dying cancer patients (as many as 4.4 %) walk out of Calvary Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York each year-cancer free! Even the doctors at these world-famous facilities cannot explain it. Miracles happen every day--big and small, quiet and loud, known and unknown. We don't need scientific studies to confirm the power of prayer or the power of the mind to heal the body. Prayer is powerful. Meditation is powerful. All we need is faith, courage, and the belief that anything is possible!