By Jerry Harris
I walked into the quiet room where a mom and dad sat stunned. Their only son, Mark, a boy of about 5, had been playing T-ball and complained he was having trouble seeing the ball. His mother took him to an eye doctor thinking he might need glasses. The concern on the face of the optometrist was obvious when he referred them immediately to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Further tests revealed a very serious brain tumor. I sat with mom and dad as doctor after doctor came into the little room to report ever graver news.
The first, an eye specialist, said the vision problem was caused by pressure being exerted on the back side of the eye, and that it would result in permanent blindness. The second, a bone specialist, said radiation therapy would cause the bone on either side of Mark’s head to cease growing, creating permanent deformity. The third, a neurosurgeon, said the tumor was inoperable. The mom asked the fourth specialist, an oncologist, if Mark could get better. The oncologist replied that, sadly, the tumor was cancerous, aggressive, and terminal.
I could only watch as these parents were taken apart, piece by piece, until there was nothing left but to pray that God would be merciful. I can still hear the mom say through her anguish, “Mark will make a wonderful angel in Heaven.” I felt powerless in this horribly sad circumstance, but knew we have a God of limitless power to whom we pray.
I asked mom and dad what they would like to pray for. Their request was very general in nature, as so many prayers are. I challenged them to be specific with God about the cry of their hearts. Mom said she wanted to pray that it wouldn’t be cancer, and so we prayed specifically for that outcome. A few days later, the doctors were embarrassed to admit they had misdiagnosed the tumor as a malignant cancer, but that it actually was a noncancerous growth. They informed the parents, however, that it was still growing and it would be terminal; the tumor was pushing on the brain and causing a cerebral hemorrhage.
Doctors stopped the radiation treatments, so no bone damage occurred. Mom and dad were convinced it hadn’t been misdiagnosed, but that God had intervened, transforming the cancer into something benign.
Once again, I asked mom and dad what they would like to pray for. Their desire was for the possibility an operation could improve their son’s condition, and so we prayed for that. A few days later, one of the doctors told the parents a doctor in Dallas had successfully performed a very invasive surgery once on a person with a similar diagnosis. The parents contacted the surgeon and scheduled an examination to determine whether he would attempt the operation.
If performed, the surgery would require removing the face from the skull, and cutting the skull into sections to expose the tumor on the back shelf of the skull behind the eyes. It sounded horrible, but the doctor confirmed that it was operable. We prayed together the night before they flew to Dallas.
I will never forget the phone call after the surgery was completed. The dad cried tears of joy as he informed me the surgery was a complete success and Mark looked fine. A few months later, I told our church students the story of the amazing power of prayer, ending the session with little Mark coming into the room, running around, and saying hi to everyone. Mom and dad were convinced God had transformed the impossible into the possible.
Several articles in this issue deal with transformation, God taking the impossible and making it possible, reversing the irreversible, and swallowing up hopelessness with hope. In Matthew 9:18-34, Jesus healed a woman with an issue of blood, raised a dead girl to life, restored sight to two blind men, and enabled a mute to speak. That’s a lot of transformation for just 16 verses of Scripture. And while we might think physical transformation and healing would be the greatest gift of all, it doesn’t even come close to Jesus’ ability to transform a life, a future, and an eternal destiny if we entrust our lives to him.