Are Miracles Real? Acts 14:8-10

Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man, 1655, Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594–1665) Oil on canvas

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts we explored how Paul “sees” a man, a lame man, a crippled man. And we discussed the way Jesus saw people when he walked the earth and how that applies to you and to me as a follower of Christ. (If you’re interested, you can learn more here: Seeing Like Jesus–Acts 14:1-9.)

Today we’ll look at the way God heals the lame man. And we’ll answer the question: Are miracles real?

Acts 14:8-10

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

Acts 14:8-10

Seeing that the man who couldn’t use his feet had faith in Jesus, Paul said to him, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man “sprang up” and began walking.

Do Miracles Happen?

For most of my life when I read accounts like this one in the Bible, I would sometimes take it on faith that they were true, but, other times, I would wonder why I personally haven’t seen God do any miracles. And I would wonder if God even does miracles anymore. And if He doesn’t do miracles today, then were those miracles of old in the Bible even true in the first place?

I used to wonder sometimes until recently. Last year one of my favorite Bible scholars wrote a book about miracles. The reason he’s one of my favorite Bible scholars is because of his fearless obsessive meticulous approach to truth. He has a pattern of doing amazingly thorough research, and then writing what he finds, whatever it might be, even if it doesn’t line up well with modern American Christian culture. When I read what he writes and when I hear him speak I get the sense that he doesn’t care what people think, he only seems to care what God thinks.

Anyway, about a year ago he wrote this book called Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern World and a bunch of the content in that book is from a previous book of his, a two volume 1,248 page book, titled Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. As you probably guessed, the latter is written on a more scholarly level.

In the preface of his more recent book, Miracles Today, Keener shares about a woman named Barbara Cummiskey who was diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic with Multiple Sclerosis. From the time she was fifteen to the time she was thirty-one she spent 75% of her life in the hospital. If you’re a medical professional or if you have a friend or family member with a serious chronic disease, this next part will sound familiar. She had chronic pulmonary disease and she would frequently experience pneumonia and infections.

This is how one of her surgeons describes her:

Barbara was one of the most hopelessly ill patients I ever saw. She was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic as having multiple sclerosis. She had been admitted to the local hospital seven times in the year that I was first asked to see her. Each time she was expected to die. One diaphragm was completely paralyzed so that the lung was nonfunctional, and the other worked less than 50 percent. She had a tracheotomy tube in her neck for breathing, always required extra oxygen, and could speak only in short sentences because she easily became breathless. Her abdomen was swollen grotesquely because the muscles of her intestine did not work. Nor would her bladder function. She had not been able to walk for seven years. Her hand and arm movements were poorly coordinated. And she was blind except for two small areas in each eye.

–Dr. Harold Adolph

Over the sixteen years since her diagnosis her condition deteriorated. She had a feeding tube. She was on a machine to help her breathe. Her bowels were paralyzed. Barbara was, in her words, wrapped up like a pretzel. The way I understand it, her body was contracted into a twisted fetal position. She hadn’t walked in seven years. Her feet pointed down and like the lame man in today’s text, her feet wouldn’t work.

The doctors decided to transition to palliative care. They sent Barbara home and told the family, “It’s unlikely that she’ll survive long enough for us to see her again.”


Barbara hadn’t been able to visit her church in Wheaton, Illinois in four years but her pastor visited her often during that time. One time someone called the local Christian radio station WMBI and requested prayer for Barbara. People started writing letters to her and they were sent in care of her church. One Sunday after service a couple of friends came to Barbara’s house to share the letters, about 450 in number.

As her friends were reading her the letters, Barbara says she heard a voice tell her to do something. Similar to Paul in our text, Barbara says she heard a commanding voice from over her left shoulder say, “My child: Get up and walk.”

She could only talk when someone plugged her breathing tube and because her hands didn’t function someone had to do that for her. One of her two friends saw she was agitated so she plugged the tracheostomy tube and Barbara said, “God just told me to get up and walk.”

Her friends became quiet.

“Go get my family!” Barbara said.

But she couldn’t wait for her family. Up until now it took two people to get Barbara out of bed. They would slide her onto a board and then into a chair.

Today Barbara left her bed and like the lame man in our passage, she stood upright on her feet. Feet that were too deformed to wear slippers just a few moments ago. Then her hands, which were clawlike up until now, opened to a healthy normal position. And she could see those hands. She could now see. Her eyes were functioning. She disconnected her trache tube from her oxygen tank and pinned her catheter bags to her clothes. She ran outside and danced in the street.

The next day she saw her palliative doctor, Thomas Marshall, who said, “I thought I was seeing an apparition! Here was my patient, who was not expected to live another week, totally cured.”

Over the next three plus hours most of the other doctors in Marshall’s office came to see Barbara, and they all reported they had never seen anything like this before. X-Rays showed her formerly collapsed lung was no longer collapsed. Her breathing was normal. Her diaphragms were normal. Her bowels were functioning and a surgery was scheduled to reconnect them. (She was completely whole except for a complication from the bowel reconnection surgery.)

The Chicago Tribune carried her story.

This isn’t where the story ends though.

Keener went to the trouble of interviewing Barbara Cummiskey Snyder in December of 2015. He also interviewed two of Barbara’s doctors, Dr. Adolph and Dr. Scott Kolbaba. And this account was corroborated by all three.

And then there’s one last thing.

The day Barbara was healed.

Sunday, June 7, 1981. It was Pentacost Sunday.


Image of Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man, 1655, by Nicolas Poussin via Wally Gobetz, Creative Commons

Available on Amazon!

Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)

Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

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3 Comments on “Are Miracles Real? Acts 14:8-10

  1. Pingback: Paul, Barnabas, and Humility–Acts 14:8-18 | God Running

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