Saturday, February 26, 2005

#22 - Faith Precedes, Accompanies, and Grows After the Miracle

Faith defines the person. Where the world eschews faith as being far too ephemeral to be reliable, people of faith constantly look for ways to improve their condition based on their understanding of their future state. This is where people who lack faith fall short: they cannot see beyond this life and its challenges, and so they mark their success based on how well they position themselves in life. People of faith understand life as being merely a test. This is where we prove that we can follow our Creator without regard to our relative position in mortality.

Part of that journey of faith involves believing in miracles. For most of us, that means understanding what constitutes a "miracle" as opposed to an explainable event that has no connection with God or his gospel.

Take Geoff Johnston's recent incident with his small son. They found him face down in a pool. After rushing him to the hospital, his condition was critical and his grip on life tenuous. A day later, the boy's prognosis is optimistic and he should be coming home sometime over the weekend. Without any other commentary or knowledge of what happened in that hospital, this is a wonderful story. It gives hope that this youngster will continue to have a normal, happy and healthy life. But there's more - so much more - behind the story.

Geoff himself explains best what happened:

Briefly: While my wife and I followed the helicopter to the hospital we prayed and began to feel the beginnings of faith that we cold save the boy. When I gave what probably sounded like a brash blessing to my boy in the emergency room my faith grew. When I learned all of our family and ward were praying for a recovery I felt slightly better. When I followed my impression to ask for help here I felt a little more confidence. But it was only after my brother Russ told me that my plea at my blog was not ignored, but rather many righteous Boggernacle saints (who wouldn't know me from Adam) were praying for my Quinn... It was then when I finally knew... Sorry if it sounds dramatic but it was then that my tears of gratitude finally flowed. Quinn was going to be fine.

When my stake president later came to the hospital and prophesied that Quinn would fully recover most remaining fear and doubt disappeared. When the doctors told us there was no signs of neurological damage and our Q-dog (the nickname his missionary uncle gave him) would have a full recovery it was fitting, but not surprising.

It's interesting to note how this faith grew step by step throughout this experience. Whenever I have had to take children to emergency rooms, my own faith is sorely tested at the outset. This, I think, is only natural. We feel that we have no control over this child's immediate destiny, and we find ourselves fearing the worst. People of faith, however, turn to the one source they've always believed to be constant. Prayers are uttered in silence to a being that they've probably never seen, whose voice they've probably never heard, but who they believe to be watching everything that's going on in their lives. Geoff marked that as the beginning of his faith.

Latter-day Saints, by virtue of our priesthood, take a more interactive approach to faith. That power enables even the weakest of us to bless the lives of others through authority granted by the Savior himself. Geoff blesses his child and feels his faith grow. Please note that it was not a case where faith didn't exist in the first place. This was an instance where faith had been squeezed for a moment and needed rejuvenation. His understanding of prayer and the knowledge that those close to him were praying for his son continued that rejuvenation. He requests the prayers of others, bloggers and blogreaders alike, to join in those prayers. His call is answered. Faith grows stronger still. His stake president offers his spiritual prophecy - well within his calling - that this child will make a full recovery. Faith has been restored and, like well-polished silver, glows brighter than it did before this incident occurred. Hence the lack of surprise (although sighs of profound relief, I'm certain) when the doctor pronounces his positive outlook.

Can the boy's recovery be explained naturally? Of course. Hundreds of children (and others) will suffer similar incidents where life will hang in the balance and a rapid response by medical professionals will make the difference. But let's consider:

Would medical services have been as rapidly available as they were in Quinn's case fifty years ago?

Would the medical knowledge available fifty years ago been adequate to ensure Quinn's full recovery?

Maybe, and maybe not. Kids have been falling into pools for decades, and medical science has advanced tremendously just in the last fifty years. I suspect his chances for a full recovery would have been much slimmer had he been born when I was. (Note: I'm not fifty yet. But I'm close.) Where does all this advance come from in the first place? People of faith know the answer to that question.

No, the miracle here is that not only will Quinn live, but that he and his family will be able to look back on this incident as a faith-promoting experience, rather than as a near-tragedy. Oh, they'll use that near-tragedy as a teaching tool, you can be sure. They'll be even more pool-safety conscious than they've ever been, and they'll teach Quinn in no uncertain terms how to be safe around them. But they'll also be able to teach Quinn in those same uncertain terms about the power of prayer, the power of the priesthood, and the need for faith. They will continue to bear powerful testimony of those things, which will help rejuvenate the faith of others.

In today's world, this lesson will become its own miracle.

No comments: