The miracle at the wedding in Cana was a miracle of transformation. Miracles of transformation can be hard to verify. This is particularly true of miracles of healing. What follows is unusual in that a qualified doctor was able to examine the patient both before and after the miracle.
Our son Nicholas lived and worked for several years in Hong Kong with St Stephen’s Society which was set up by Jackie Pullinger to bring the hope and power of the gospel to the poor.
Much of Nicholas’s time was spent with men coming off drugs and out of triad gang membership. Sometimes, not surprisingly given this background, things got quite violent. On one occasion, Nicholas was punched hard on the left ear by someone coming off heroin; he was knocked to the ground and immediately lost the hearing in that ear. Other Christians present prayed for the healing of his ear and somebody said that the ear would be completely restored, just as Jesus healed the ear which was slashed by Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Nicholas went to see a specialist surgeon, who told him that there was a hole in his eardrum which had collapsed over on itself. He would need at least one and possibly two operations. The first operation would be to unflatten the eardrum and straighten it out. The second potential operation would be more serious and would involve taking a piece of skin from his forehead and grafting it on to the eardrum to cover the hole.
Meanwhile, friends continued to pray for the healing of the ear. After a couple of weeks Nicholas went in for the first operation and the eardrum was straightened out – a rather painful procedure. His ear was stuffed full of cotton wool and he was told to return in two weeks. Nicholas went back as instructed. The surgeon unpacked the cotton wool and inserted a very small camera into the ear. As he examined the ear, he fell silent. Then he said:
“There must have been people praying for you”.
“Because you have a completely new, virgin eardrum. It’s like the eardrum of a child. There is no scar tissue whatsoever. There is no sign of any trauma whatsoever. It is completely perfect. It is a miracle”.
Nicholas could now hear perfectly clearly. In the months leading up to the punch he had regular migraines which were sometimes bad enough to incapacitate him for anything except lying on a bed; the migraines now ceased completely and have never come back.
Pete Greig tells the story of the miraculous provision of large quantities of cash.
Susanna Rychiger believed she was called by God to pioneer a 24-7 community in the Swiss Alpine town of Thun. She felt God telling her to rent a particular apartment in the centre of town close to where many of the poorest people would be found. Her budget didn’t stretch to covering the rent so she cut back her expenditure and prayed for the money.
While she was away at a conference in Cape Town a friend called Rebecca stayed in the apartment to look after it. Rebecca decided to prepare for Susanna’s return from Cape Town by giving the apartment a good clean. She went to the cleaning cupboard, opened the door and gasped. Strewn all over the floor and around the boiler were thousands of Swiss francs. Aghast at what she saw and stupefied by the idea that Susanna would do this with her money and then plead poverty, she collected up the cash, placed it neatly in the corner of the cupboard and wrote a note to her friend asking her to call when she got back.
The ensuing telephone conversation did nothing to clear up the mystery. Susanna had no idea what Rebecca was talking about, but she went to the cupboard and found fourteen thousand Swiss francs (six months’ pay) on the floor.
What was going on? She went through the options:
- Was Rebecca playing a game with her – trying to give her money in some roundabout way? No, she knew Rebecca didn’t have that kind of money and she was clearly as confused as Susanna herself.
- Had some generous donor secretly put the money there? No, because only Rebecca had a key, and who would break into an apartment to deposit money?
- Had the money been left by previous tenants? No, because Susanna had been living there for several months and this was not the first time she’d been to the cleaning cupboard.
- Had the money been stolen somehow? She checked with the police and the bank and they said no money had gone missing.
What rational explanation was left? Susanna decided that either a seriously confused burglar had broken into her apartment and secreted a large amount of cash in her cleaning cupboard, or God was providing the cash himself.
Three days after the discovery of the cash a friend asked Susanna to show her the miraculous cleaning cupboard. She opened the door but then stopped in her tracks: there was another two hundred Swiss francs sitting on top of the boiler.
The same thing happened the following day: another two hundred franc note. This time Susanna said she didn’t need the money and gave it to her friend.
Eleven days later another friend, Michael, arrived to plan a youth event. Like everybody else visiting Susanna’s apartment these days he checked the cleaning cupboard: nothing. He closed the cupboard door and they went into the kitchen to make tea. A few minutes later they heard a strange sound coming from the magic cupboard. Michael opened the door and, behold, another thirteen thousand six hundred Swiss francs were lying on the floor.
A total of twenty-eight thousand Swiss francs turned up in Susanna’s cleaning cupboard over the course of less than a month witnessed by three different friends. Susanna was able to pay her rent and her taxes and then gave the rest away. Several friends and family members came to faith as result.
It’s a shocking story. We are used to the idea that that God created the universe from nothing, but bank notes!? Did he invent serial numbers?
The shock is part of the point. It’s one way God gets our attention. What we do with the shock presents us with a choice: to turn towards him or away from him.