Stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is, to put it politely, unpleasant. I seemed to have suffered from it more often than other children. I dreaded the experience. No one, I’m sure, ever happily said, “I have a stomach flu and can’t wait for the finale.” But it appeared to affect me more severely than most.
Fortunately, three decades passed without contracting this type of flu again. Those dreadful memories had long since faded. But then, one Sunday morning, my stomach felt a little queasy. I shrugged it off, but it progressively worsened—you know where this is heading. Around mid-afternoon the feeling became vaguely familiar, but I didn’t know why. Eventually it hit me: “Oh no, I remember this!”
A few hours later, and right on schedule as I recalled the process, it was time to head to the, um, loo.
God was watching.
I made all the necessary preparations – washcloth, cup of water, removed shirt – while my stomach made its own. At the penultimate action when the abdominal muscles made their final contraction, all the childhood memories of such moments came flooding to mind. I absolutely did NOT want this to happen again. You see, it was subsequently discovered that I had a structural defect that did indeed make these events more painful and difficult for me than for most everyone else.
So, with all my heart, and with less than half a moment to spare, I cried out, “Oh God, HEAL ME!”
He was listening.
Instantly it was over. One nanosecond I was in the throws (pardon the pun) of sickness, and the next billionth of a nanosecond I was perfectly fine. My stomach was normal. The fever and chills were gone. My breathing was steady. I just knelt there stunned and thanked God. He healed me; just like that. No earthquake. No shining light. No booming voice. Healed.
I taught advanced technology certification courses at the time. The next morning, Monday, I decided to tell my dozen or more students about this answer to prayer. My purpose was two-fold: I wanted to share with them what God had done in my life in the hope of “planting a seed” in their heart, or “putting a stone in their shoe” as Greg Koukl says, that would one day draw them closer to God through faith in Christ. I was also very curious to see how this group of young men would respond. In fact, I believed this healing was more of a testament that God planned to use in their lives than it was a practical blessing in mine.
An uncomfortably stilled silence fell over the class. Not one of the students knew how to react. I was looking at blank stares.
Eventually one student bravely conjectured, “It must have been a 24-hour bug.”
Everyone relaxed. The silence had been successfully broken; a natural cause had been the diagnosis. Case closed. No divine healing had occurred. They were safe from this evidence that God exists and is involved in everyday life. They were safe from the decision to take God seriously. They could go back to life as usual. Except, there would always be the memory of the healing story. A memory that would testify to the power and existence of God and how He mercifully answered one guy’s desperate prayer.
I chuckled to myself and almost asked the obvious: “So, when did viruses get issued watches with a sweep second hand and learn to tell time?” But this wasn’t a time to confront, it was a time to plant. I wonder how God used this testimony of His grace in their lives.
I wonder how He will use it in yours.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29, NRSV)