“Miracles Today?” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 52
We have seen in this dispensation no parting of the Red Sea. We have seen no feeding of 5,000 from a few loaves and few fishes. But we have had our thousands in England join the Church in response to Wilford Woodruff’s preaching. We have had a visit from the Father and the Son in a New York grove.
God blesses with major miracles only according to need, and then to fit the time.
But the quieter, subtler actions of the Holy Ghost that affect only one person, or a few, are common in every dispensation. Saints of all ages have been blessed with special experiences with the Spirit—and those are indeed miracles—such as healings, prophecies, answered prayers, spiritual insights, changes in lives, dreams. As Moroni said over fifteen hundred years ago, “I will show unto you a God of miracles. … And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not many miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
“And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.” (Morm. 9:11, 18–19.)
Most miracles today occur privately, and are kept privately within the heart, or within the family, or are shared only with a few close friends who will understand. But sometimes, appropriately, they are shared as expressions of gratitude and faith in fast and testimony meeting.
Nearly every testimony meeting has several such expressions. And when many of those stories are gathered they draw an impressive picture of miracles in the Church today. Indeed, experiences with the Spirit are not uncommon among the Saints on earth today; only those who “dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust” do not receive such blessings. (Morm. 9:20.)
Those miracles we hear strengthen our faith; they bear witness to us again and again that God loves us, that he is concerned, that he will, when necessary, directly influence our lives.
Possibly the most common miracle expressed is that of inspiration. One young brother recently bore a testimony of how inspiration had blessed his family: “I was coming back from a trip to Yellowstone Park with my dad and grandpa, and we stopped at a service station to get some gas and to stretch our legs. Grandpa is getting pretty old, and his eyes are very bad. He went into the station, and when he came back he walked right through a glass door. He thought it was open. It cut a deep gash in his arm. I tried to stop the bleeding while we rushed him to the hospital.
“After we got there, Dad suggested that I ask the nurse if there were any Mormon elders around; he wanted assistance in giving Grandpa a blessing. She was telling me she didn’t know any Mormons when a man stepped up and said, ‘I’m a high priest. I can help.’
“After he and Dad had given the blessing he started to leave the hospital, but I stopped him. ‘I hope we didn’t make you miss seeing someone here,’ I said.
“‘No,’ he said, ‘I don’t know anyone here.’
“‘Then why did you come in the first place?’
“‘I was driving through the neighborhood and I just got the feeling that I was needed here.’”
A new father told a very different story of inspiration, an inspiration that the ward members had actually witnessed taking place: “I am very touched this afternoon. When I stood to bless Mark I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, though I did have a few things in mind. But when I actually held him in my hands and began the prayer, impressions began crowding in on my mind. I wasn’t left on my own to give my son a blessing: the Lord inspired me through the power of the Holy Ghost to know what to say.”
And even more simply, from a sister: “I felt the Spirit quite strongly as I sat there listening to the testimonies, and felt compelled to stand up and express my feelings to you.”
From a priest: “I was out working on my car yesterday. All of a sudden something seemed to say to me, ‘Get out from under this car!’ I did, and instantly it dropped down off the supports I had it resting on. I know I would have been crushed to death. I’m so grateful to my Heavenly Father for watching over me.”
And finally: “I know that this Church is true. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that God lives and loves us, that Joseph Smith was a prophet. But I don’t know these things simply because I want to. I know them because God has revealed to me that they are true.”
Akin to the miracle of inspiration is the not infrequent occurrence where, through the workings of the Spirit, one receives a new understanding of a gospel principle, an insight. One Utah sister whose son has cancer bore this testimony: “Our strivings in behalf of little Thomas have helped me to finally understand what faith is. I’ve learned that faith is not just something you feel, it’s something you live. I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping me to gain that understanding.”
Another sister said: “I think this has been a hard year for me. First I lost my mother. Six months later I lost my father. I had been home less than a week when a good friend took his own life. Then our daughter left on her mission. Then Yolanda, an older daughter, had her first baby, and it had serious complications. Yolanda had to stay up with her night after night. Last night she said, ‘Mama, can I leave my baby with you for a while? I’m so tired.’ I said, ‘Of course.’
“Shortly after she left, the baby stopped breathing momentarily. I almost panicked. I tried to reach Roy [her husband] and then Yolanda, but couldn’t get either. Then the baby stopped breathing again.
“Finally Yolanda came back and we took the baby to the hospital. I just came from there. The doctor told us that the baby will require extensive heart surgery tomorrow. I think he’s trying to prepare her to lose it.
“Last night I stood for several hours and watched through the nursery window as Yolanda stood in the nursery with her hands in the baby’s isolette, touching the baby’s head very gently. She seemed to be coaxing it with her eyes. ‘Don’t go. Don’t go.’
“Just a few minutes ago we sat together—I had my arm around her and she had her head on my shoulder. I could feel the love Yolanda has for her little baby. Together we yearned for Heavenly Father to let us keep her.
“These things are a hard way to learn a lesson. But through it all I have felt the comforting assurance from the Spirit that we will all be together again, if we remain worthy. I think through all these things the Lord has finally helped me to understand what it really means to love a member of your family. I’m not sure I would have gained that understanding in any other way.”
Just as this sister felt the influence of the Spirit during a difficult time in her life, so do many other Saints receive the Lord’s help through answered prayers.
One mother told of a frightening incident she had had in the month previous with her eighteen-month-old toddler. He was exploring their bathroom when “he began to scream and scream. I ran into the bathroom, and I was horrified at what I saw. He had slipped and hit his head on the bathtub. It was turning an awful black and blue and was really beginning to swell.
“I’m afraid I almost became hysterical. I picked Ronnie up and carried him into our bedroom and laid him on the bed. All I could think to do was pray. So I knelt down there by the side of the bed and had hardly uttered the first few words of the prayer when I felt an almost tangible feeling of peace and calm.
“By the time I had completed the prayer Ronnie’s head was back to normal size, and almost all of the discoloration was gone.”
A mother of six young children bore another strong testimony of the miracle of answered prayer. Even though it was still early spring she and her husband decided to take their children up into some nearby mountains for a picnic. But what started as a beautiful day turned out to be something of a nightmare.
“We got on a really muddy road, too muddy to turn around on without getting stuck, so when we came to a stream that crossed the road we decided to coax our old pickup over it. But we got stuck. The more we tried to get out, the deeper the wheels went into the streambed. Finally it got dark, and we knew we were there for the night.
“It was miserable. There we were with six children and three blankets crammed into the cab of an old pickup in freezing weather. Then the water in the stream backed up, then backed up some more, until it entered the cab and formed a pool of ice water several inches deep on the floor. We had to hold our feet up to keep them from getting frozen.
“Finally it was dawn and my husband, Walt, and Peter, our oldest boy, decided to walk out to find help. They walked for hours, and didn’t see a soul. As the time passed they became more and more discouraged; in the early afternoon they knelt and prayed for help. Now, I want to tell you that we had prayed before, but this time I guess the Lord knew that they had done all they could.
“As soon as they stood from their prayer, Walt felt impressed to go in a different direction from the one they’d been traveling. Soon a jeep came over the hill carrying two good priesthood holders who were wondering why they had the feeling they should go in that direction, which was a detour from their original route.
“It was three in the afternoon when Walt and Peter and our rescuers got back to us. And I don’t need to tell you that we slept well that night. After a very thankful family prayer, of course.”
There are other ways the Lord uses miracles to answer our prayers. Sometimes, for instance, he seems to manipulate our temporal world to our benefit, as one sister related in testimony meeting:
“We knew when we were preparing to send Roger on his mission that we would have to change our life-style to afford it. But when we sat down and figured out exactly what our new budget would be—to the penny—we discovered that we wouldn’t have enough even for must items. We worried and prayed about it; we were going to trust the Lord and send Roger anyway, but we didn’t know how we were going to do it.
“Then, the day before Roger left, my husband’s boss called him into his office and said they were giving him a raise effective immediately. He then wrote the amount of the raise on a slip of paper and handed it to my husband. It was the exact amount—to the penny—that it was going to cost to support Roger on his mission.”
Our Heavenly Father also helps us in other ways. Jesus said: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they … lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17–18.) Healings are a very real part of the restored church, and are often borne witness to in fast and testimony meetings.
An eighteen-year-old elder bore testimony of the healing power of the priesthood in these words: “Last week I was fixing my breakfast early in the morning. After I cooked some bacon I poured the grease from the pan so I could fry some eggs. Then when I picked up the grease container to put it away, I bumped my hand against the hot pan. In jerking my hand away, I sprayed hot grease all over my face.
“My dad rushed me to the hospital. The burns were very severe, and the doctor tried to prepare me for a long and painful stay in the hospital. So why do I stand here before you less than a week later with a face completely free of scars? It is because, after the doctor left the room, my dad and another priesthood holder anointed me with consecrated oil and blessed me. My dad blessed me that I would have no scars. I am here today because of the power of the priesthood.”
An older man said: “I used to have emphysema so bad that I couldn’t walk half a block without being totally out of breath. Then a few months ago they called me to be a sealer in the temple. I was very concerned, because I knew I would have to climb stairs there, and I just couldn’t do it. But when they set me apart for that responsibility they also blessed me that I would have the health I needed to do the task. Brothers and sisters, that blessing has come to pass. And I’m not just blessed in the temple; yesterday I played four rounds of tennis and didn’t even feel winded at the end. And I won them!”
The Lord is also giving the Saints information and comfort through miraculous means. For instance, a sister told of her baptismal experience. The missionaries took her into a room for a pre-baptismal program. “I said to them, ‘This isn’t where I’m going to be baptized, is it?’
“One of the elders shook his head and said, ‘No, that’s downstairs.’
“‘Good,’ I said. ‘This isn’t the place I saw in my dream last night.’
“When we did go down to the area where the font was I felt all warm and full inside; it was the place I had seen in my dream.”
Another sister, who was having marital problems because of her husband’s authoritative attitude, told of a dream she had that helped her resolve her bad feelings. “This sweet, gentle lady came to me and told me to be patient and loving, that Arnold was a good man, and that he would change his ways. The dream stayed with me for days; I couldn’t get it off my mind. I wondered who the lady was, and how she could say what she had. Then one day, not long after, we received some long-awaited photos of Arnold’s progenitors that we had sent for to put with our genealogy. Among the photos was one of Arnold’s mother. He had never really known her, since she had died when he was only seven. But apparently she knew him well. The woman who came to me in that dream was his mother.”
Like in that dream, the veil is sometimes lifted, and members of the Church are blessed with communion with those on the other side: “My grandpa died after being married to Grandma for fifty-seven years. Soon after he died I went in to visit her and said, ‘Has Grandpa visited you often, Grandma?’
“She got this funny look on her face and said, ‘How did you know?’ She told us that he visited her often, and shared with us an experience she had had two days before. She had finished her prayers and was lying in bed thinking when Grandpa appeared at the foot of her bed. ‘Take me with you,’ she told him.
“He shook his head and smiled sadly. ‘It’s not time yet, Ruby,’ he replied. He then said more and left.
“It wasn’t too long after that, however, that the time apparently had come, and we took Grandma to the hospital for the last time. We might have grieved to see her go, but how could we try to hold onto her when she wanted so much to go to her beloved?”
And repentance is a miracle, made possible by the atonement of the Savior. A young man bore this testimony: “I think of all the pain I caused my parents—and myself—by not realizing that sin does not bring happiness. After high school I moved out and started drinking, smoking, and using drugs. I thought I was having a good time, but now I know I was really quite miserable.
“Then one day I stopped and thought, ‘What if my parents could see me now? What would they think?’
“It was then that I started to turn my life around. I discovered that where I was is not where it’s at. I would never have made it without some good new friends and an understanding bishop—and without the help of the Holy Ghost. But with their help I was able to repent. And now I see how unhappy I was. I testify that repentance and righteous living bring happiness. And I know from experience that the Lord is always there to help us change our lives, if we only let him.”
Ours is indeed a Church of miracles. We can see the evidence every fast and testimony Sunday, when our faith is strengthened by the spiritual experiences of our fellow Saints. And in addition to that are the countless experiences that are kept and pondered within the heart. (See Luke 2:19.)
“My beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven?” Mormon asked, and then answered his own question: “Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; … wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. …
“But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness.” (Moro. 7:27, 37, 39.)
“By their fruits ye shall know them,” the Savior said, and the Latter-day Saints of the 1970s—and of every decade—have the fruits of faith: the miracles, the spiritual experiences that are related every month in testimony meetings across the Church. Truly it is as the Lord said in latter-day revelation: “Blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall … be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time” and, it seems clear, with miracles according to the faith and need of those who “are faithful and diligent before me.” (D&C 59:3–4.)