Friday, April 06, 2007
Remembering a miracle
My husband's best friend, Hans, was supposed to be in our wedding. But three weeks before the ceremony, Hans learned he had testicular cancer. He was 38. The prognosis wasn't good. The cancer had spread to his lungs, part of his stomach and his liver. We visited Hans a few days before we left on our honeymoon. He looked awful, and we were not optimistic that he would be alive when we returned. In a cold and dingy hospital room, we bowed our heads and prayed for our friend. The doctor who was treating Hans came into the room too, and the three of us held hands and prayed together.
By the time we got back from our honeymoon he was sitting up in bed. Six weeks later he would walk out of that hospital, minus part of his lung, and he would live way beyond the number of years the doctors had given him. I believe it was a miracle. Now, I have another friend who is a Harvard-educated scientist who will tell you that no miracle took place. He's an atheist and believes that everything that happens can be explained scientifically. He would say that God didn't save Hans, but rather, the doctors did. In many ways I can't argue. Hans was treated with a cutting-edge vaccine designed to fight testicular cancer, much like Lance Armstrong's treatment. But there was something in that room the night we prayed that makes me believe it was more than just a vaccine that kept Hans alive. I believe prayer, hope and faith had an awful lot to do with his healing.
Plenty of studies have been done on the effects of prayer. A good many have found that those with faith tend to be healthier. But other studies have found no such effect. Researchers at Duke University, in one of the largest studies ever conducted on prayer and healing, found no difference in the recovery of heart patients who had prayer, compared with those who didn't And regardless of religion - Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Christian - their outcome was about the same.
Around this time of Easter, I often think of our friend Hans. I will always remember him as a man who taught me an awful lot about prayer and healing. I feel when fighting an illness, you have to believe something or someone will help you through it. For Hans I think it was his strong will to live, and his beliefs. For my friend from Harvard, who has fought clinical depression most of his life, it's the medicine he takes every day. But I will never forget that day in that hospital, when three people joined to ask for help from a higher power. I believe prayer works.
What do you think...do you think prayer helps heal the sick?
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