If you don’t think God does miracles anymore, you might want to talk to the Rev. Earl Underwood.
In 2012, his wife, Laura, had a cerebral hemorrhage. The situation was critical and a doctor asked Earl if he wanted his wife put on life support if she stopped breathing.
Laura was flown by medical helicopter to Omaha and Earl prayed as he drove into the large city.
“I can’t live without my wife and I need your help, God,” he said.
During the flight, Laura’s brain stopped bleeding.
Laura was hospitalized for 18 days and then spent five weeks in Nye Legacy for rehabilitation. In the meantime, Earl would learn something amazing.
“About the time I would have been talking to God is when the brain bleed stopped,” Earl said.
Some might call this a coincidence, but the Fremont man calls it a miracle.
Earl sees a parallel story in the Bible. It’s found in the New Testament book of Luke, starting in chapter seven.
In this account, Jesus has entered Capernaum, where a centurion lives. The centurion has a servant, whom he highly values.
Some Jewish elders highly value the centurion.
So when the centurion’s servant becomes very ill and is about to die, he sends some of the elders to Christ, asking him to come and heal the servant.
The elders go to Jesus and plead earnestly for his help.
“This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue,” they say.
So Jesus goes with them.
Jesus isn’t far from the centurion’s house, when the man sends friends to say: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.
“But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”’
When Jesus hears this, he is amazed. Christ turns to the crowd following him and says: “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
After that, the centurion’s friends return to his house, where they find that the servant is well.
The book of Matthew, which also includes this story, adds that the servant was healed at the moment Christ spoke.
There’s another miraculous time story in the Bible.
It’s in the fourth chapter of the book of John, starting with verse 46.
At this point, Jesus is in Cana when a royal official travels more than 15 miles from Capernaum and begs him to come heal his son who’s near death.
“Go,” Jesus replies, “your son will live.”
The man takes Jesus at his word and leaves. While he’s still on the way home, his servants meet him with the news that his boy is alive.
The father asks what time his son got better.
“Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him,” they say.
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The father realizes this is the exact time when Jesus said, “Your son will live.”
Earl has more than one miracle story, too.
He can tell you about his 74-year-old brother, Jim, who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Last spring, Jim called after tests revealed that he had a tumor on his pituitary gland. He was given pain medicine for his terrible headaches and sent home.
“The church was praying and so were we,” Earl said.
A month later, his brother returned to the hospital.
The tumor was gone.
Besides miracles with his wife and brother, Earl has his own story.
In 2009, Earl was diagnosed with chordoma, a very rare bone cancer, after a test showed a tumor on his sacrum — the large triangular bone at the lower spine’s base.
He underwent a 13-hour surgery that included removal of his tailbone, part of his sacrum and three pairs of nerves.
During the procedure, surgeons cut away flesh and muscle from the top of Earl’s lower back past his hips.
They reconnected his nerves with those of a cadaver. They closed the cavity with cadaver skin and replaced the flesh and muscle they’d previously removed.
Earl was hospitalized for 28 days, lying on a mattress filled with air-rotated powdery sand. He had to lie down on the trip home and then was allowed to sit for only 10 minutes, four times a day for the first three months.
He still either lies down or stands quite a bit. When he sits, he sits on his legs and uses a pillow.
Earl is grateful that he hasn’t had complications suffered by other people with chordoma and notes something else:
“Most people do not live longer than six years — at the most,” he said.
Earl surpassed the 10-year mark earlier this year.
Does Earl believe the miracles he’s seen show that God still works today?
“You better believe it,” he said. “God’s there all the time even though society might start thinking, ‘There’s no such thing as God’ or ‘God’s not around.’”
In a world where cynicism abounds, it can be easy to fall into negative attitudes and doubt.
But I think God can use stories like the ones Earl tells to encourage us. They’re hope-builders and faith-strengtheners.
It’s true that not everyone survives a health crisis, but my prayer is that people won’t fall into bitterness and cynicism, contending that God doesn’t perform miracles anymore.
I want to have faith like the centurion and the royal official who trusted that Christ’s goodness and mercy wasn’t hampered by time or distance.
Earl talks about faith that sees God’s hand in everything and I want to have the spiritual eyes that can look at what someone might call a coincidence and see it for the miracle it really is.
Our God is never too far away to help.
The same God who created the universe still performs miracles in modern times.
And sometimes all we need is to hear some tenderly uplifting reminders by a guy willing to share his miracle stories.