[The name has been changed.]
“Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known.”
Jim came to the office nearly six weeks ago for what he described as a pinched nerve in his neck. The neck and radiating left arm pain was getting worse and he had not slept well in months. Jim displayed impairments in shoulder, neck, and hip range of motion. You may call Jim a stiff-necked person. With strength and general health well above average for his age, Jim’s movement patterns were poor, especially given his high activity level.
Over the next few weeks, I performed some hands-on work (light manipulation) to his cervical and thoracic spine. Jim completed specific stretches to reinforce this hands-on work, and general postural strengthening. Soon, Jim was sleeping much better. His neck and arm symptoms decreased drastically except for after golfing or working with his arms overhead. Jim then experienced an intermittent but sharp pain near the left shoulder blade. This problem proved to be relentless and difficult to solve.
At this point, here are some other things you should know about Jim.
Having worked hard all of his life, Jim is highly educated and connected throughout the mid-Atlantic region with what you may call national “Higher Ups.” He’s now semi-retired, but works as an advisor, writer, and he remains active. Jim is the kind of guy who will let you know where to find fine things of good taste. Jim was willing and compliant with my instruction to him. But he was uncomfortable when I challenged him with something counter to his current fitness routine and beliefs. Perhaps being successful and in charge for most of his life made it difficult for him to be a beginner. There was a certain degree of obstinacy and pride. Jim, like me, is a bit of a stiff-neck person.
In our conversation, Jim and I talked mostly about fitness training, sports, and history. He let me borrow a few of his books. Jim was optimistic and only slightly sore when he left for a two week golf and business trip.
This backdrop to the rest of this story required more words than I intended. But it’s important for you to know that we both gave physical therapy some consistent time and effort toward solving a mechanical neck issue. It’s also important for you to be tuned in to Jims personality. Some people talk big God words with little to show in their lives. Other people declare every cross-shaped Cheeto and open parking spot at the mall a miracle. Jim did neither.
After his trip, Jim arrived to his appointment with a countenance previously unseen by me.
“I’m healed, Bob, I could not wait to tell you.”
“That’s great! Were you able to golf?”
He went on to describe the details of how his symptoms severely returned after the first few days of golfing. Jim said he performed poorly and for a few days felt sorry for himself. One day on the way back to the hotel, he struck up conversation with a paraplegic man working in the parking area outside of the clubhouse.
The conversation went something like this.
“I see your veterans hat. Where did you serve?”
“Well I just want to thank you for your service to me and this country.”
Jim shakes his hand, hands him $100 on the sly.
The war vet looks down at the ground then smiles at Jim.
“Thank you so much sir. I can really use this right now.”
The veteran reached up, gently shook Jims hand again, now on the left side.
“Thank you sir. God bless you.”
Jim eyes beginning to well up as he recalls the story.
“Physical therapy has done me well. But with that hand shake, I felt different. The pain was completely gone from my left arm and shoulder blade. I golfed two more days pain free and have slept without pain since then. Never saw the veteran again.”
– – – – – – –
Did God cure Jim’s cervical radiculopathy? Jim certainly thinks so, and he’s really the only one with insight into how this happened.
Do I think God cured Jim’s issue? I don’t know. I hope so. I think traditional type miracles do happen. The immediate and dramatic turnaround is the fast work of God. But it’s obvious that this happens infrequently, and not on demand. How would mere humans learn and grow in a world where every problem could be cured in an instant with the “correct” prayers and beliefs?
The normal, everyday healing that I witness at work is the slow work of God. Slow miracles are facilitated by knowledge, effort, and two-way personal interaction. Though less dramatic, slow miracles grab our attention in other ways. They quiet the loud and lay humble the proud. They cause our body and soul to grow in impossibly holistic ways.
When someone claims they were healed of a chronic, incurable condition like Lupus or arthritis, should we ALWAYS assume this was simply a matter of misdiagnosis? Does the mechanism of healing really matter? Did God “remove the Lupus” or did the immune system simply have a renewed and redoubled effort? I don’t think it matters. All healing, organization, structure, and beauty ultimately comes from on high.
Whether it occurs immediately or over three sets of ten reps, to God be the glory.