“Where are you, Lord… And where are the miracles?” I whispered to God the night before I received what was to become the most earth-shattering phone call of my life…
It was sometime around midnight on June 18th, 2013 as I sat on my living room sofa pondering everything that had taken place in my life over the previous three months. In hindsight, I confess that I was not handling well the extreme spiritual warfare I was engaged in and the enemy was gaining the upper hand. I remember struggling with a feeling of helplessness and it had a paralyzing grip on me.
I didn’t understand it. I believed in the almighty God and I acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior however in the midst of all that power, I still could not deny that I felt powerless as I stood by and watched while physical and spiritual attacks were relentlessly being made on me and my family. These attacks included family deaths and catastrophic illnesses. They were pulling apart our marriages and causing unbelievable discord among my family members. The covers were being ripped off of everyone and sin was rearing its ugly as it carried us into territory we had never experienced before. And as if that wasn’t enough, in the midst of all the fiery darts that were coming at me, I suffered alone in indescribable pain as my heart ached for my only son whom I had not seen in years. Constant prayers were being prayed but I could not see them being answered. The effect of it all was devastating and it was yielding a family that was broken and a ministry that had become stagnant.
There I sat on the sofa feeling numb. So much so that I found it difficult to pray. When I tried to speak to God, all I could whisper under my breath was, “Where are you, Lord… And where are the miracles?”
As I stared into the darkness, words came to my mind that I have heard many people say in the midst of a crisis as they tried to comfort someone who is going through Hell on earth: “You’ll get through this. God never puts more on people than they can bear.” I cringed every time I heard it. “Is this really true?” I thought. “And furthermore, is it even biblical?” I couldn’t tell you why, but I had always doubted those words and that night, I decided to prove it.
I reached for my Bible and began to search the Scriptures for proof that would either confirm or dispute the statement. If this were true I thought, then why do so many people (including Christians) resort to such extreme and desperate measures when life becomes too unbearable for them? As I flipped through the pages, I came across a passage that was written by Paul, the apostle. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Here it is, I thought! This must be the scripture that so many have misinterpreted. As I read it again, I saw that the scripture referred to temptations. It said that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able. It did not refer to the afflictions that will come to us in this life. I continued to read a little further and I found another scripture written by Paul: “I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
“Okay, Lord,” I prayed. “Thank you for this. So many people have it wrong. You do allow into our lives more than we can bear. However, in order for us to be able to live through it and learn from it, we must rely on You.” Little did I know at the time that the Lord was preparing me for something so devastating that I would not be able to survive it, or learn from it, unless I looked to Him for His wisdom and leaned on Him for His strength.
Early the following morning, I received a phone call from one of my sisters. She was calling to inform me of a strange event that had just taken place. She explained that my mother – who had been diagnosed with a form of dementia and who was declining rapidly and losing her cognitive abilities therefore could not speak – had made an unbelievable phone call – on her own – to alert my sister of an emergency concerning my dad. It turned out that my dad was experiencing stroke symptoms and my mother recognized the signs! My sister explained, “After Mommy called me, she put Daddy on the phone and I talked to him but he refuses to go to the hospital. He keeps saying that he’s fine.”
My sister and parents lived in Plano, Texas and I was living in Georgia therefore I could not get to my dad, so I immediately hung up the phone and called him myself. I firmly told him that I was going to send an ambulance for him. He insisted that he was fine and said he would refuse the ambulance if I did so. Instead, he agreed to drive himself to the emergency room (which was only minutes down the street) just to satisfy us and my mother. This was not what I would have preferred but there was little else I could do under the circumstances. My dad kept his word and with my mother in the car, he drove himself to the hospital. In the emergency room, it was confirmed that my dad had experienced a second stroke (the first one had only been a year before). So they admitted him into Baylor McKinney Hospital for further testing and observation. My dad spent a peaceful night at the hospital. We were all grateful that the stroke did not seem to be major and my family and I looked forward to him going home the next day. Little did we know, God had other plans and life as we knew it would never be the same again.
The following morning, things began to take a turn for the worse and my dad was not released from the hospital Early that afternoon, he had began to complain of stomach pain and he could not pass his urine. Furthermore, every time he tried to lie down, he complained of having breathing difficulties. By this time, a team of nurses had come into his room trying to take his temperature and draw his blood. However, they were unsuccessful. Strangely enough, they could not get a temperature reading on him neither could they draw any blood from his veins. His blood pressure began to drop dangerously so they rushed him into ICU. There, he complained of being cold and then slowly became unresponsive.
Within minutes of all this, my dad suffered a massive heart attack, went into cardiac arrest and he died – his first death. My dad was without a heartbeat or a pulse for twenty minutes. A team of doctors and nurses worked frantically to revive him – and they did but twenty to thirty minutes afterwards, he went into another cardiac arrest and he died – his second death. This time, he was without a heartbeat or a pulse for twenty-five minutes. A third time, his medical team revived him. We found out later that my dad had actually suffered a third cardiac arrest and he died again – his third death – however, for reasons no one could or would explain, the third one was not placed on record. In secret, one of the male nurses that worked on my dad confirmed that he had, in fact, died a third time. The nurse was adamant when he explained to my sisters and I that the circumstances surrounding my dad’s third cardiac revival went against hospital policy which is why no one would talk about it. Therefore, we don’t know how long he had been dead during the third death. None of this made any sense to us, or anyone else for that matter.
I discovered later that brain damage is highly likely if the heart stops for more than 5 minutes and death is highly likely if the heart stops for more than 10 minutes. My dad died three times and was without a heartbeat or a pulse for more than 45 minutes total! Another nurse who worked on my dad also explained to us later that an incredible chain of events took place in the course of reviving my dad. We were told, off the record, that some of the events even went against hospital rules. “They were pulling people in and out from different departments and floors who should never have been there,” he told us. Later, after speaking to some of the other key participants, I found out that everything that happened in Baylor McKinney Hospital that night defied logic. They all agreed that everyone felt compelled to work together for my dad – an old black man of meager means that no one knew anything about – for reasons no one could understand. My dad eventually became known throughout that Texas hospital as the miracle man.
After the doctors revived my dad for the third time, a cardiologist had my sister arrange a conference call between him, my sister in Texas, my sister in Pennsylvania and me in Georgia. Over the phone, the emergency room cardiologist explained to us that my dad was on life support. He further explained that he could no longer breathe on his own and that his organs were rapidly shutting down. He also explained that my dad had no brain activity, that his kidneys had failed and that they had found acid in his blood which was a sign that all of his organs were failing.
In horror, my family watched as my dad’s body physically reacted to what was going on internally. His body began to violently jerk and his tongue darted uncontrollably in and out of his mouth. The doctor explained that this happens when the brain can no longer send signals to the nerves. He told us that my dad could not and would not survive the trauma that his body had gone through and that he would not make it through the night. He further explained that if by some miracle he did make it through the night, he would be in a vegetative state. He advised us to give him permission to let my dad go if he suffered another cardiac arrest which he felt was highly likely. The three of us were hesitant to do so but when the doctor explained that my dad was suffering horribly, we agreed.
Immediately, I packed and made plans to drive from Georgia to Texas. “Why was God allowing this?” I asked myself as I traveled. I prayed for a miracle but honestly I did not know what to expect when I arrived. As the oldest, I also prayed for strength for I knew my family would be expecting me to hold it all together. Emotionally, I prepared myself for burying my dad and began to consider plans to care for my mother. I drove straight through and made it to Texas the following evening. When I arrived on June 21, 2013, amazingly my dad was still unconscious – but alive. I tried to wrap my brain, and my faith, around everything that was happening. But, again all I could do was ask the God same questions. “Where are you, Lord… And where are the miracles?”
People do not realize that countless numbers of miracles are taking place every day. Unfortunately, we may only hear about a handful of them. What happened to my dad would be one of them. Why does God miraculously heal some on this side of Heaven and yet choose to not heal others? I pondered this question over and over again. The reasons are too innumerable and complex to explain. A simple answer we will never have. therefore this as well as many questions like it will remain a mystery. As almighty God, Creator of all, it is His right to withhold whatever He chooses. We still praise Him nonetheless. It is enough to know that miracles do still happen.
The morning following my arrival to Texas, we were all (including all the doctors at the hospital) shocked to discover that my dad had survived the night. Doctors were even more so amazed when he opened his eyes days later. By now my dad had become a medical wonder and a curious spectacle. Doctors were coming in from all over and just stared at him. No one could explain what was going on with him.
When my dad opened his eyes, his sight was poor and his eyes looked as if they were pushed out of their sockets but within a week he began to look like himself and was able to see clearly and he continued to get stronger every day. Days later, my dad pulled the feeding tube from his nose. After a few more days, the doctors decided to also remove the breathing tube and he surprised everyone by being able to breathe on his own! Every day my dad did something to surprise everyone. Though he was not able to walk on his own, his vital signs became stronger, his failed kidneys began to miraculously improve and his cognitive abilities slowly returned – and no one could believe it when everyone discovered that there was absolutely no brain damage whatsoever! The most amazing thing of all that had happened to my dad was what he had to say when he finally began to speak. My dad began to slowly speak in a whisper and with tears in his eyes he told us about the amazing experience he encountered after he died.
Incredibly, my dad explained what happened after he died. He told us that when his heart stopped, everything faded to black. He said he saw the doctors pounding on him, injecting him, shocking him and doing everything they could to revive him, yet he felt no pain. He remembered floating upward outside of his body and looking down to see a woman doing CPR on him. Later, that same nurse could not look at my dad without breaking into tears. “I thought you were gone,” she said to him. “I don’t know why,” she later told my dad. “But I just could not give up on you. So I just kept going.”
I would like to note here that my dad was not a Believer prior to his death. So when he shared additional disturbing details about what he saw, it particularly moved me. My dad spoke of being in a place of heavy and total darkness for what seemed like an eternity. He said that while he was in that place, he felt hopelessness, loneliness and horrifying fear. He said he remembered being disappointed because unlike what some people had described about the dying experience, he heard no Heavenly voice and he saw no angels. He did however, finally hear a voice tell him that it was not his time. After my dad recovered enough to think and speak clearly, my husband called and spoke to him about the Lord. Then he led my dad in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Weeks later, my dad shocked everyone when he walked out of the hospital with all his faculties intact and he described a glorious sight. As he looked up into the sky, he said it was too bright for him to see so he had to cover his face for it hurt his eyes. Yet, when his eyes adjusted, he said he saw Jesus standing in the Heavens. Afterwards, my dad continued to share his miracle with everyone who would listen. He also continued to relentlessly and lovingly care for my mother who he believed the Lord brought him back for. My mother died eleven months later in May of 2014 and my dad’s final death followed ten months after her’s in March of 2015.
After leading my dad to Christ, my husband told him: “Mr. Lee, God has given you a second chance.” God had, in fact, given my dad a second chance. In reality though, God had given everyone who had the privilege of experiencing his miracle a second chance. This now includes you. And as for the answer to my questions: “Where are you, Lord… And where are the miracles?” The Lord says that nothing has changed. God is here. His miracles are here. Jesus says, “Yesterday, today and forever, I Am.”