Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seeing Is Believing, But Not Always

A few years ago I was involved in an online discussion with a small group of atheists. They insisted that God could not possibly exist because there is no proof. When I suggested that the miraculous is proof of God's existence, they expressed as much skepticism for miracles as they did for God. So I went out on a limb and told them about a miracle witnessed by my wife many years ago. The reason I say I went out on a limb is because my wife can provide no evidence that it ever happened. Still, I figured it was worth a try.

The miracle took place while my wife was living at a YWCA in South Africa thirty years ago. Her friend Angie (not her real name) was born with polio. She could not walk without crutches and leg braces. One leg was four inches shorter than the other, which meant she had to wear a built-up shoe.

Angie was a devout Christian and one night she asked my wife to go with her to a meeting hosted by a visiting evangelist. During the meeting, the evangelist called everyone to pray for healing. Angie grabbed my wife's hands and told her to pray for her.

At some point, my wife opened her eyes and looked down at Angie's leg. What she saw shocked her. Angie's short leg was stretching, right before her eyes. My wife watched as her friend's leg grew to the same length as her other leg. The call went out for people who had been healed to go up to the stage. Angie went up where the prayers continued. By the end of the meeting, Angie had removed her braces and her built-up shoe and was running around the tent.

So my wife saw her friend healed of an incurable disease that had afflicted her since birth, and also witnessed a reconstructive miracle on her withered leg. . .as it was happening. Not only that, but the atrophied muscles in Angie's legs were regenerated to the point where she could run.

So how did the atheists on the forum respond? I suppose I was expecting a bit much to hope that they would believe this. It happened a long time ago and all I have is my wife's word that the healing took place.

The thing with miracles is, they are miraculous. They happen when God steps into our world and bends the rules that He put in place to keep everything functioning in an orderly fashion. The Webster dictionary defines a miracle as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." So, by definition, miracles are extraordinary. The claim made by atheists that they do not believe miracles because they cannot be tested in a laboratory, is unreasonable. If we could test miracles in a lab, they would stop being miracles and fall into the realm of the ordinary.

I asked my wife why she did not get any proof at the time. She said that it never crossed her mind that, thirty years later,  she would be telling people about it. A tent full of attendees saw Angie walk in with crutches and a built up shoe, and they saw her run out of the tent bare-footed. Most of the girls at the YWCA who had known Angie for twelve years were touched by her healing, filing into her room to see for themselves what had happened. And yet, there were those who remained skeptical. In spite of seeing someone cured of polio, they refused to believe what they could see with their own eyes.

Angie's withered foot remained smaller than her other foot but it functioned perfectly. Also, she did not get her missing toes back. Angie told my wife that she believed God did this so that people would believe her when she witnessed about her healing. This makes sense, because seeing scars is more convincing than being told about them.

The atheists on the forum even insinuated that my wife might be lying or, worse, deluded. I took some offense at this, but only because I have been married to her for twenty three years. I know my wife and I know she saw what she says she saw. Anyway, she does not really care what people say. I suppose I cannot expect someone who barely knows me to trust anything I say, let alone my wife. If they knew me and my wife, they would probably be less skeptical, but then, maybe not. Some people will never believe in God, no matter how much evidence is placed before them.

On a brighter note, someone not participating in the discussion came on later and expressed genuine amazement at what I had told them. This person was an atheist, but was less skeptical than the others. I like to think that Angie's miracle was for that person as well.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


  1. Wow! Bible Study class yesterday was on Peter's healing of the lame man at the Temple gates. Your post couldn't be more timely.

    1. Hi Alice. That's wonderful! God's timing is awlays spot on.

  2. It takes an incredible amount of faith to believe the world is the result of chance. Ultimately we choose what we will believe. Often, I have found that choice is based on our willingness to accept the claims of Jesus on our lives more than on the evidence or its lack. I just stopped to pray for that last atheist, that even now he would be influenced by your wife's experience with her friend.

    1. Hi LeAnne. That is so true. Personally, I don't have enough faith to be an atheist.

      I recently went back to the forum and the atheists were still there, using the same old arguments. People say it isn't worth debating with them but for every person posting comments, there are an unknown number just watching. I've seen people on the fence go one way or the other based on what they've read on these forums, so I think it is worth the effort. Also, you have to wonder what draws an atheist to spemnd so much time and effort arguing with Christians. If I don't believe something, I just ignore it. Personally, I think they want to be close to God, but don't realize it. So they argue. The way I see it, the longer they spend in contact with Christians, the more they come into contact with the Holy Spirit.

  3. For those who believe, no evidence is necessary. For those who don't believe, no evidence is sufficient.

    I think you are absolutely right in saying that atheists love the argument because it keeps them in some touch with God. I believe everyone has a God-shaped hole in the spirit that nothing else can fill. That is why they are so driven to argue.

    1. Hi Judith. Exactly. If you don't believe something exists, why bother? Unless you're actually curious.... :-)

  4. Of course some people would not believe even if someone was raised from the dead. Oh wait, that actually happened didn't it? It sounds to me like these atheists just want someone to convince them. We can pray God will work on their hearts.It has happened before. Thanks for sharing that incident from your wife and Angie's lives.