Difficulties with Miracles
In this session Lee Strobel addresses the issue of healing. God miraculously heals some, but not others. What do you do if your loved one is not healed?
today on the johnny Karberg show. My guest is lee Strobel who graduated with a Master’s of study in law degree from Yale University and became the award winning legal editor of the Chicago tribune. An atheist turned christian lee left the tribune after 14 years and is now a new york times best selling author of over 20 award winning books. He wondered what evidence shows the most astonishing miracles that got his perform. So he began writing a book called the case for miracles and he did so by first inviting America’s foremost skeptic Michael Shermer to build his strongest case against miracles. Then lee began to dig out evidence, responding to charmers, arguments by interviewing experts, scholars, scientists and doctors in those fields. Li also commissioned a national scientific survey by the barna research group to ask american adults, have you ever had an experience you can only explain as being a miracle of God. Nearly two out of five U. S. Adults or 38% said they had such an experience. This means an astonishing 94,792,000 american adults are convinced God has performed at least one miracle for them personally. Are also surveyed 1100 medical doctors who said they were convinced that miracles occurred today because they had patients who had less than six months to live, but after prayer were completely healed. But Lee also wondered why does God heal some and not others to hear lead present the most astonishing miracles God has performed. That convinced tim that God’s miraculous activities today are both credible and astonishing, join us for this edition of the john Ekberg show, Welcome to our program. I’m johnny Coburg and we’re talking about do you think that God actually does miracles today, supernatural miracles among us today? I have a former atheist on the stage today who wrote a book the case for miracles. And in this book, lee you fully documented certain miracle cases and we want to zero in on one today. And uh, but I suppose we better talk about the fact I introduced you as an atheist, but then you became a christian. Talk quickly how you did that and then get into Barbara Snyder. I want to talk about her because you did a lot of work with Barbara and tell me why? Yeah, I was an atheist for much of my life, became a christian because of the evidence for an historical miracle, the resurrection of jesus. But then wondered, is God still in the miracle business today, that led me to research his book and that’s how I encountered Barbara Snyder. Tell me about her. It was the most fascinating case I encountered john Barbara Snyder was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager. Many people live with that illness quite successfully. She did not, she deteriorated very quickly. She had multiple surgeries. She um, would continually get pneumonia. It got to the point where several years later the doctor said, look, there’s nothing we can do. She only had one lung that was functional. That’s right. They said next time you get pneumonia, why don’t we just let you die? Because otherwise we’re postponing the inevitable. So they put her in hospice in her home. So here she is in a bed in her home. As you said, one lung is nonfunctional. The others only 50% talk about her feet. Yeah, her feet and she’s kind of curled up like a pretzel. Her feet were were extended like this, her fingers were touching her wrists, she was rigid and and and so forth. She had a tube in her throat that was connected to oxygen canisters in the garage. So she could breathe, breathe, she could, she was blind. She could just see gray shapes, her her urination and bowels were nonfunctional. Um and they just basically waiting for her to die. Um Now a couple of friends, she was a christian couple of friends of hers called W. M. B. I. The christian radio station in Chicago and said, would you just ask your listeners to pray for Barbara? She’s on the edge of death. In fact, one doctor said she was the most hopelessly ill patient I’d ever encountered. So they put out the word, well we documented at least 480 Christians began praying for Barbara because that’s how many wrote her to say I’m praying for you. Right, so it’s Pentecost Sunday. She’s in bed. Two of her friends are in her room reading some of these letters from people praying for her. And all of a sudden out of nowhere, Barbara Hears a voice comes from the corner of the room where nobody was and the voice said get up my child and walk. I mean she’s got a she’s got a tube right into her throat. She can’t talk. Exactly. She has to take out the tube to say God just told me to walk, get up and walk and and and go get my parents, I want my parents here and they went out and but she doesn’t wait, she jumps out of bed and she stands on the floor and she her feet are flat and her hands unfold and yeah that’s right, my feet are flat. I can actually stand, she hadn’t walked in seven years her her hands unfold and then she said oh and I can see again. So you think that’d be the first thing she she that’s right. So her mother come running in, grabs her legs and says your your your calves are back muscles, you have muscles that the Atrophy had gone away in her legs from not having walked for so many years. Her dad walked in and waltz with her around the room. She was instantly and totally healed that night there was there was a service at her church, a wesleyan church in Chicago area and the pastor gets up and he says does anybody have any announcements. And Barbara comes walking down the and the church who had never seen Barbara for years except in a wheelchair. Just spontaneously broke out and singing Amazing grace. I once was blind and now I see the next day she goes to one of her doc Dr. Thomas Marshall, that’s right. An internist for 30 years. And he said later when I saw her walking down the hallway toward me, my first thought was, oh she died and that’s a ghost because he said and these are his words. He said this is medically impossible. Two doctors ended up writing about this in their books, calling it a miracle. There is no natural explanation for what happened to Barbara Snyder. Also like dr marshall said, I’ve never witnessed anything like this before or since and considered a rare privilege to observe the hand of God performing a true miracle. You went after she had this miracle happen and you interviewed her right and right now I want to show the clip of you interviewing Barbara but folks, I want you to listen to Barbara tell her own story. It only takes about three minutes. But let’s roll that clip right now, June 7, 1981. I’ll never forget it. It was a day like any other day for me that was one spent confined to bed unable to breathe on my own, hooked up to machines. Tricky asked me to be in my neck, my arms curled up, my legs curled up, I lay there trapped inside my own body is really how it felt. I had two friends over, they came over all the time. They were from my church, my church family never forgot me. So while they were there, I still remember exactly what they were reading when all of a sudden um I heard a booming, authoritative, loud voice over my shoulder over here, say my child get up and walk and there was nobody else in the room and there was no one else in the room and the door was over here. There were windows over this way and instantly I knew it was God, but instantly I also knew that my friends didn’t hear that, which is kind of interesting to um and I needed to share with them what I heard. Well, I had this tricky asked me to be my neck, that’s how I breathe and I had hands that did not work. So my friend said whenever I looked agitated, they knew I wanted to talk. So they come and plug the hole in my neck and I said, I don’t know what you’re gonna think about this, but God just told me to get up and walk and my friends got really quiet. I know, but he really did tell me to get up and walk, run, get my family. I want them to be here. And my friends all of a sudden jumped up and while they jumped so did I. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait for anyone. And I literally jumped out of the bed. This this is where you’d almost have to have known me to see how totally impossible that was. So, this time I remember reaching up and pulling my oxygen off my neck, remember that? And then I jumped toward the Voice. My friends are over here. But I jumped towards the Voice and as I jumped up, the first thing I remember isn’t what I would think I would remember. But I jumped out of the bed and I looked and I saw my feet, they were flat on the ground, just like everyone else’s, which sounds normal, but not for me. I had foot drop so badly I couldn’t even wear slippers on my feet. They were so curled. So when I jumped up to have feet flat, I was amazed and stood staring at my feet. And when I did that I jumped like this. And then I saw my hands and they were open and they never opened. And so now they were open. And I stood staring at them and then it dawned on me. I could see me. That’s what I would have thought I would have noticed first was my vision. But I didn’t know it was back. I was perfectly fine. And I stood staring again for a little while just feeling what it felt like to look at and see me. And then I turned and that’s when we were like women. We all started jumping up and down screaming and thanking the Lord. I remember I didn’t understand anything except where once I was real sick I was well again and it has to be God, that’s all I knew. There’s this testimony, what’s happened to her, what happened to Barbara has been medically documented and have been passed around and everybody cannot explain it and they just call it a miracle of God. It was I mean I get tears in my eyes just watching that because she is such a sweet woman. And um, I asked her why you, why did God heal you and not others. And she said, I don’t know. I don’t know. But it tells us three things about God what it does, it tells us number one God is real. He exists and that’s that’s the first thing. Exactly. That’s right. Number two, he’s powerful that he can in an instant heal multiple sclerosis that way. And I’ve had other examples in the book of other healings like that. And then third that he is loving that he loved Barbara so much. He said, my child get up and walk. Yeah folks, it’s in his book. I’m just telling you that’s just one of the cases he’s got in his book alright by the way, she ended up marrying a pastor and they had a little church in fredericksburg Virginia ministering to people in that community. Yeah, I want to switch gears at the time that you’re writing this book. Same time at home, your dear wife Leslie, who’s your sweetheart all the way from high school is suffering. Tell the folks about what you’re doing at home and how you’re praying for a miracle for her, but it’s not happening so right. Say that this section is called what happens when miracles don’t occur. Um, you know, I know intellectually we can wrestle with this question, why don’t miracles occur? We can say, well, you know, miracles weren’t automatic in the new testament either. We can say that jesus didn’t do many miracles in Nazareth, we can say in Matthew chapter 10, the disciples were given the authority to heal and then seven chapters later they couldn’t heal an epileptic boy. We can say that paul didn’t heal everybody. He went off on a missions trip and left trophy in a sick back home and paul had this thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, that was never taken away by God. There’s also a spot lee where jesus heals a whole bunch of people all day long. The first day goes up into a mountain to pray and more people come to be healed and the disciples are looking for them and they go up to the hill and they say listen, jesus, they’re all waiting for you to come on down to heal them and he says, hey, let’s go to another city because the main reason I came was to preach the Gospel, not that he couldn’t do the miracles, but the main reason he came was to present the Gospel, which was namely he had come to pay for people’s sins. That’s right. And the Gospel tells us that ultimately all who follow jesus will be healed as we leave this world and go to the world of no suffering, no tears, no pain and so forth. So that promises for everybody who comes to faith in him every day. Your wife Leslie’s in pain. Yeah. Then there’s the personal side there, there’s the emotional side and my wife Leslie, who was a devoted follower of jesus reads her bible every day, you know, she just consumes scripture, she shares jesus with others, she exudes the love of God in every way she is devoted to jesus christ. You are the legal editor of the Chicago, tribune, going to law school at Yale and so on, got your degrees and all kinds of stuff. You were the staunchest atheist that anybody knew, you finally came to know christ, but you attribute a lot of it to your very dear wife. That’s right. It was the changes in her character uh, that really were winsome and attractive to me after she became a christian, I was still an atheist and it was, it was winsome and it drew me toward the faith. So she has an authentic relationship with jesus christ. There’s nobody I know who has a deeper, more profound, more um, personal interactive relationship with God. Okay. There’s a lot of people all over the world that are watching us and the fact that they have a deep relationship with the Lord, jesus, but their suffering, I’ve seen them in huts, I’ve seen them in hospitals, I’ve seen them all over the place and I’m just telling you your wife, she’s in deep pain. Kind of described what she goes through every day. Yeah, She has a, a neuromuscular condition called fibromyalgia. God has spared her from some of the worst symptoms of that, but it is a very difficult disease to live with because it gives her chronic muscle pain, John there has not been a day that has gone by in the last 20 years, that she has not been in pain. And there will never be a day in her life because of this incurable nature of the condition where she will not be in pain unless God intervenes in a miracle. So, she gets up every day, and the first thing she does is get down on the floor and she’ll be on that floor for an hour, hour and a half, maybe two hours stretching her muscles trying to get them limber so that she can um mitigate the pain that she feels. Um, and uh, you know, it’s as a husband, you want to help you want to, you know, you’re the guy who, you know, and you can’t there’s nothing that you’re writing this book. I’m writing this book about people that are actually being healed. You go home to your own wife and you’re praying that God will heal her. But no miracle. I go to interview Barbara Snyder and I come home and I say, honey, let me tell you about Barbara Snyder, how God healed her multiple sclerosis in the snap of a finger. And she says it’s fantastic. And then I say, but what about why? No miracle for Leslie, You know, and I know all the intellectual answers, I know God can cause good to emerge from suffering. I know that, but what about why? No miracle for Leslie? Um I know that God can can do things through suffering that he can’t otherwise do. And frankly, she is a woman of empathy and grace in a way that she probably would not be if she hadn’t gone through this kind of pain, I get that. But why no Miracle for Leslie? So these kind of things are uh you know, in a way, actually, you can deal with them personally. It’s difficult to want to switch over to one of our dear friends and that’s Doctor Doug, he’s written these fantastic theological books, huge books. He’s a brain. And he married a girl that Semenza, which means she’s a genius. Yet she came down with the disease and you went and asked for permission to talk with Doug about what he was going through. Talk to the people about that. Yeah. And I said Doug I feel bad coming to talk to you about this. And and he said you almost canceled the interview because it’s such an emotional drain. He just looked terrible. I said you look terrible. He said, I feel terrible. I I’m exhausted. He said this is exhausting. His wife had a condition. Um it’s not Alzheimer’s but had similar symptoms, but she lost her ability to communicate largely. It was a dementia form of dementia. So she would put her, she would tie your shoes, but they’d be on the wrong feet pretty soon. She didn’t know what a telephone was. She didn’t know what a hairbrush was. So she was slow, slowly losing her cognitive skills and and they prayed and they ask God please heal her. It was a tragedy to see this brilliant woman who was an author herself and an editor to lose that capacity. And and Doug is watching this happen. And and there’s nothing he can do. And the miracle that they implored God to send never came. He said to her at one point, he said, you know, honey in the long haul, everything will be all right. And she said, what do you mean? And he said the new heavens and a new earth and what he meant was in the in the life to come. The it’s a hope deferred that the day will come in the next life when she will be totally healed, he said, I learned to lament, you know, there are about 60 sounds in the bible because you asked him, how are you doing dog yourself? And he said, you know, I don’t know that I’ve done it well, he said sometimes I hated God for this. Like I question the goodness of God sometimes, and and I remember a theologian telling me once, you know, God’s a big boy, he can handle it when we come to him in our raw emotion and these laments in the bible just express our frustration and even jesus and the cross lamented, he said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And that was a prelude to his resurrection into a new life. And that is the prelude for us coming to a new life ultimately where we will be healed and so forth. But you know why God heals some and not others is an inscrutable question to season those things. We don’t know. Doug took Becky to a dinner and he says, I want to make a toast to you, and he said, uh here’s the toast to the source of our hope, which is the afterlife. And she had a big smile on her face and she says, you’re right, and she did end up after I wrote the book, um going to be with the Lord. Yeah. And he asked her, he says, is that enough And she says right now, that’s enough because I know when I go to see jesus, he’s gonna change this body, we’ll be together. And the fact is we’re going to have new bodies, no pain, no suffering, no tears, no nothing to look forward to. The fact is he’s gonna give us a completely new existence. And that’s what christians get to look forward to. We’ve only got a few seconds left. People that are around the world that need hope today. What would you say to them in the last minute? I would say, first of all that, the bible says, jesus understands and he is there for you and you can express your raw emotion to him and you can be honest and real with him, he’s a big boy and he can take it and you know, if you come to him in repentance and faith and just say jesus, save me, save me, I’m a sinner. I know I don’t deserve heaven, I don’t deserve you. But I know you died for me to pay the penalty for my sin. I want to receive your free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. You pray a prayer like that. God will come into your life and he will comfort you and he will walk you through your struggles. Would you say a prayer for those folks if they’d like to say it with you when they could invite jesus into their life. Absolutely, just say this prayer, just say Lord jesus. I do believe as best I can, that you are the son of God. You proved it by returning from the dead and I confess that I am a sinner and I want to turn from that and I want to receive your free gift of grace, free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Thank you, jesus for coming into my life at this very moment. Thank you for flinging open the gates of heaven so that we can spend eternity together forever. Amen one more prayer. I’d like you to pray. And as for the many people that are born again, they are christians and they’re laying on their bed. My mom died of lou Gehrig’s disease every day I’d come in there and move her arms just to be in the right spot and you get discouraged, okay? And there’s nothing to look forward to but death and you can’t even move alright, You can’t even talk. And so I’m saying, say a prayer where you can say Lord, please encourage these folks that love you and put joy in their life today that nobody else can do. Let’s pray father. I know that you love each and every person who’s watching at this very moment. Those who are going through struggles, they’re going through pain, who are caregivers for someone who is suffering, who are exhausted because of the demands that it takes to minister to people who are in the throes of pain. Father encourage them, bring them joy. Help them get a glimpse of the wonder of your grace. Thank you for the fact that you love us. Thank you for the fact that you will spend eternity with us in a place of wondrous joy where we will give thanksgiving for eternity and where all of the suffering of this world will fade into the past. We thank you for who you are. We thank you for the love that you shower on us and we pray that you would cause each person listening right now to have a sense of joy in knowing that you are gracious. God to each of us, pray this in jesus name. Amen, folks. Thanks for joining us today. And I really believe if you’re a christian and you’re suffering today, don’t ever forget God knows where you’re at. Okay. He’s right there with you and he’s watching over you and ask him for things. Even if you can’t talk, pray to him, let him give joy into your life that nobody else. No doctor, no nurse can do. Just look to the Lord. He can help next week. We’re gonna talk about this some more. So I hope that you’ll join us. But stay tuned. I got a personal word for you in just a moment. Stay tuned, john will be right back. We get mail and you’ve got mail from people that are in prison for all kinds of crimes. We’ve gotten letters from businessmen that have messed up their life completely. We’ve gotten letters from people that are good people that have good families, but they don’t know if they’re going to heaven and this actually is talking to all of those people and maybe we could use a story of a young fellow that both of us met and knew I actually had him on the program at one time and his name was Roger. And you have a tremendous illustration using Roger’s life. And I’d like you to explain that to the people, to help them to understand what we’re talking about here. And you know, the news is simply this, the justification, which is what we’re talking about today is not merely being justified as if I had never sinned, but it is also as if I had lived a complete life of righteousness. Now, back to Roger, Roger struggled with a number of different sins among them homosexuality and he was converted out of that lifestyle and so forth. And it’s not as if, you know, homosexuality is the only sin or even the greatest sin. I’m simply telling you his story. Now, let’s suppose that this book represents the life and times of Roger and we look through it and all throughout it, there is impurity, there is regret, there is guilt, There are messes of his own life and other people whose lives he has messed up. And he had messed up quite a few lives and he had messed up quite a few lives. It’s an ugly book. Let us suppose that this book here represents jesus christ says, jesus christ. And when we open it, it’s nothing but purity, nothing but holiness. The book is so wonderful that even God adores it. Alright, when we believe the gospel, it’s in effect that jesus says Roger, I’m gonna tear out all of the pages of your book. So we rip out all the pages of this book, give me your covers and then I will take the pages of my book and insert them between your covers. And so we now look at this book and it says the life and times of Roger. Well, this is interesting. I wonder what this is gonna be like. And we open it and it’s nothing but perfection. It’s nothing but holiness. It’s nothing but beauty. It’s a book that God adores. It’s a book that God accepts. And I urge people today who are listening give God your ugly pages, recognize like Luther that there is nothing that you can do. There’s no discipline that you can do. There’s no ritual that you can do. There’s no sacrament that you can do to attain the righteousness of God. It must be received as a free gift by faith and when you receive it, it is yours. And as we shall be discussing in some of the future programs that we have planned. It is your gift forever bringing you all the way to the father’s house. Yeah. You do not have to worry. From the moment that you invite christ to forgive your sins and you put all of your trust in what he did for you on the cross, you say my hope is in you totally.