"I do not like to speak of it to people generally, they are so unbelieving; but I can tell you. The children were jumping off from a bench, and my little son fell and broke both bones of his arm below the elbow. My brother, who is a professor of surgery in the College at Chicago, was here on a visit. I asked him to set and dress the arm. He did so; put it in splints, bandages, and in a sling. The child was very patient, and went about without a murmur all day. The next morning he came to me and said, 'Dear papa, please take off these things.' 'Oh, no, my son, you will have to wear these things five or six weeks, before it will be well.' 'Why, papa, it is well.' 'Oh, no, my dear child, that is impossible.' 'Why, papa, you believe in prayer, don't you?' 'You know I do, my son.' 'Well, last night when I went to bed it hurt me very bad, and I asked Jesus to make it well, and he did make it well, and it is well.'
I did not like to say a word to chill his faith. A happy thought came; I said, 'My dear child, your uncle put the things on, and if they are taken off, he must do it.' Away he went to his uncle, who told him he would have to go as he was six or seven weeks, and must be very patient; and when the little fellow told him that Jesus had made him well, he said, 'Pooh! pooh! nonsense,' and sent him away. The next morning the poor boy came again to me, and plead with so much sincerity and confidence, that I more than half believed that he was really healed, and went to my brother and said, 'Had you not better undo his arm, and let him see for himself? then he will be satisfied. If you do not, I fear, though he is very obedient, he may be tempted to undo it himself, and then it may be worse for him.' My brother yielded, took off the bandages and splints, and exclaimed, 'It is well, absolutely well,' and hastened to the door for air to keep from fainting.
He had been a real, simple-hearted Christian, but in his student days wandered away; but this brought him back to the Lord. Strange, if it had not. To all this I could say nothing, if I had been ever so much disposed, in the way of accounting for it, upon any other hypothesis than that of the little fellow himself, that Jesus had made him well."
This account seems to come in such a way as to be reliable. No Christian can doubt the ability of the Lord to heal at the present as well as in the past. The fact that such cases are more seldom than in the apostles' days is nothing, when we remember that the gifts of the spirit in the early days of the dispensation, were to convince, not saints, but unbelievers. (1 Cor. 14:22.) Now the world has many proofs of the truth of Christianity which then it did not have, and which made miracles and gifts necessary, as a proof that the teachings were of God. However, let no one confound the above or similar answers to prayer, with the "gifts" of the primitive church; they are not the same. Those who possessed the gift of healing, did not pray, but commanded the healing.
But which cases shall we take to the Lord—every case? It could do no harm to take the smallest scratch or pain or bruise to the Lord in prayer, yet, certainly we cannot understand James' teaching to apply to such trivial affairs, else the "elders of the church" would be kept busy with one or two large families. James' prescription, it seems to us, applies to a case where, what can be done, has been done, and the sufferer is at death's door. If it please our Lord to give so marked a healing as the one above recorded occasionally, we rejoice with those that rejoice.
We expect that such manifestations of favor may become more frequent from this on; but we would call attention to the fact that those who have consecrated life, strength, mind, and all to God—a sacrifice which he has accepted—cannot, with propriety, ask to have back what they are sacrificing. [R379 : page 2] This thought is strengthened when we recall that neither Jesus nor the apostles were ever the subjects of miraculous healing. The power of Jesus was exercised in healing the people; but when he was weary, instead of seeking a supernatural supply of strength, "he sat on the well." (John 4:6.) When the multitude hungered, he fed them by supernatural power; but when he himself hungered, he would not command stones to become bread, to satisfy his hunger, but rather sent his disciples to a village to buy meat. (John 4:8.)
Jesus, by asking, could have had more than twelve legions of angels to protect his life from death, but would not ask. (Matt. 26:53.) Because he had consecrated himself to death, he could not ask nor use supernatural means to retain his hold on life. To such an extent was this true, that even his enemies remarked it, saying of him when on the cross: "He saved others, himself he cannot save." No, we thank God that he did not save himself, else we should have had no Redeemer. And we pray that all those who have consecrated themselves to God—to be "conformed to his death" (Phil. 3:10.)—may be enabled, not only to not keep back any part of the price, but to see so clearly the dependence of glory with him, or the suffering with him, that they will not ask physical healing for themselves, however much they may ask it for the people.
God's favor to us in Christ is not to be measured by our physical, earthly blessings, but by the spiritual favors which we receive from him. Thus it was when Paul asked at one time, the removal of a physical difficulty—"a thorn in the flesh"—God refused to remove it, but told him that his favor (grace) would more than compensate him—"My grace is sufficient for thee," is the language of the Lord to all who suffer with him that they may also be glorified together. (2 Cor. 12:9.)