Miraculous healing: True or False?

Where I end - a book on healing by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Where I End by Katherine Elizabeth Clark
ISBN: 9780802496348
Published by Moody Publishers on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Christian Life, Death, Grief, Bereavement, Inspirational, Religion, Spiritual Growth
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Where I End by Katherine Elizabeth Clark is an interesting, thought-provoking book that could trigger much discussion on the nature of miraculous healing. The author’s story is harrowing. A freak accident left her legs and arms paralyzed. She was told she would never walk again. However, despite the prognosis, a few months later she was walking. It was, she writes, a miraculous act of God: “I am a miracle.”

Where I Begin

I start with an observation that I believe is pertinent to how you might regard this book.

Where I End is a Christian book. The author is an evangelical Christian. She works in a Christian company. She writes in Christian language. The book is published by a publisher of Christian books. It is targeted at Christians. It’s liberally scattered with verses from the Bible. Many of these quotes are expounded in detail, even preached on.

None of the above is problematic in any way whatsoever. I merely remark that conclusions drawn by the author are based on the fact that she is living and writing from within this “Christian Bubble.”

Manifestation of the Divine

This is particularly relevant concerning the main claim made by Mrs. Clark; that she has been miraculously healed by God.

From within the Christian Bubble, Mrs. Clark presents a compelling case for divine healing. But maybe the value of this book is to look at events from outside this bubble. When doing so, certain questions arise that could lead to some excellent discussions in book clubs, although maybe not in Christian book clubs.

“You’ll never walk again”

The basis of the miracle stems from the fact that the surgeon who operated on Mrs. Clark’s spinal cord soon after the accident told her that she would never walk again. In other words, her eventual walking is a miracle because what she had been told would not happen, actually did.

But what if she had told something else by that surgeon? Or sought a second opinion? What if she had been told that the chance of walking was slim, but paraplegics do sometimes recover? Would she have considered her recovery a divine miracle? After all, spinalcord.com explains that “patients who do experience paralysis still have a remarkable chance [of recovery] that is improving with research every day.”

At this point it might be worth asking why the surgeon told Mrs. Clark she would never walk again? Was he avoiding a possible lawsuit if he suggested recovery which then didn’t take place? It’s not an impossible scenario. According to CBS News, almost one in five neurosurgeons (19.09%) risk being sued for malpractice each year. This is an incredible figure. If I had been Mrs. Clark’s neurosurgeon, I would have been very careful not to make any rash promises.

The thin red line

Another aspect – or point of discussion – is where the line between miraculous healing and medical care is drawn.

Mrs. Clark was the recipient of superb medical care throughout her ordeal. Instant emergency medical assistance was provided. She was very quickly diagnosed and operated on. She received all kinds of therapy: occupational, respiratory, physical, pool, psychological, recreational.

Moreover, she was supported by a loving husband and family, neighbors, friends, church members and even strangers. Fundraising was instigated to ensure she received the best possible care. And she demonstrated incredible courage and mental strength. Including great determination to get better.

Full or partial healing?

Another aspect – again, in the spirit not of criticism but of asking reasonable questions for open-minded discussion – concerns the nature of the recovery / supernatural healing.

I am delighted as anyone that Mrs. Clark is able to walk again. However, she herself fully admits that her recovery has not been total. “Every minute of every day is punctuated, capped with pain,” she says. She “still attends therapy in an ongoing effort to maintain health and physical functioning.” And she touches on the “residual aftermath” that she admits is too shameful to detail in a book.

Unfortunately, her parallels with the healings of Jesus (e.g. of the paralytic: “take up your bed and walk”) which suggest an instantaneous and full healing, only draw attention to her continuing struggles.

Where’s the independent corroboration?

Finally, in these days of Big Data recording every aspect of daily life, there is an absence in this book of any quantitative data on her recovery. There are no recovery statistics. No comparison of her recovery to the norms. No independent examination or corroboration of either the initial diagnosis, nor the subsequent recovery.

The verdict

Where I End is an interesting and thought-provoking book. I congratulate Mrs. Clark for her ability and courage to recall and write about such a horrendously traumatic event in her life. I rejoice along with her and her family and friends for her recovery.

But I do think this book leaves a lot of questions unanswered and open to discussion.

Readers inside the Christian Bubble may not be interested to address them. For them, the description of a miraculous healing might encourage and strengthen their faith. If so, then the book has achieved one of its goals.

For those outside, I can see this leading to some very interesting questions and debates.

Here is a pin for your Pinterest boards:

 

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23 responses to “Miraculous healing: True or False?

  1. This does indeed sound like an interesting book! Depending on someone’s perspective of where to give credit for her healing, whether it be the skill of the surgeon or her faith in God, would definitely determine how much credit they lend to her story. I imagine myself (as a Christian) that it is probably not a one or the other because they are not mutually exclusive. Thank you for the review, I’ll have to check it out!

  2. Unbound Roots

    Your review has my interest in this book! In the past year, I have heard or read (from my great-grandfather’s memoirs) about three different healing stories from three different people – none of whom are related. As a Christian woman myself, I would love to explore what this book has to offer. Thanks for the review!

    • Denzil

      I am glad it piqued your interest Erin, and hope you enjoy it, should you read it when it comes out (early January I believe). Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I’m surprised that the surgeon was so dogmatic, especially if there was a remote chance that she would be able to walk again. It does sound like an inspiring book, though.

    • Denzil

      The author certainly displayed great mental and spiritual courage to come through such a trauma April. But I agree with you about the surgeon, and was also surprised that no second opinion was sought.

  4. This sounds like a book that would be good for a discussion group – but I don’t think it’s one for my list (I have far too many books already waiting to be read!). I really liked your thoughts on it, though, and can think of a few people who would be interested in reading it.

    • Denzil

      Yes we all have to be selective with the books we read don’t we? Thanks for your positive comment; feel free to send the link of the review to your friends who might be interested in the book.

  5. Hans De Keulenaer

    According to Latour, we have 3 regions of being: nature, society and the divine. Depending one’s belief system, one could attribute healing to either region:
    * science cured me (nature)
    * my surroundings & optimism cured me (society)
    * a divine presence cured me, either transcendent or immanent

    We have to choose which ones of these 3, or all three resonate within us. There is no right or wrong answer.

  6. paulandruss

    I think this was an excellent review Denzil – fair and open minded – and presents the questions that need to be asked. It is fine to say I believe my faith cured me. That is certainly a belief and opinion. But when one expresses such an opinion publicly, one also needs to allow others to express opinions which may be contrary and to ask pertinent questions. Which is exactly what you did, as a dispassionate observer. Have a great Christmas… if that wish does not seem too ironic given the circumstances! Paul

    • Denzil

      Thank you Paul for your affirmation. I do think this is a good book for book discussion groups, although I have never been in one and have never felt the slightest urge to join one myself. But I could imagine some sparks flying on the topic of this book.

  7. I appreciate the comment by Hans above; there are so many factors that can contribute to one’s recovery, one’s belief system among them. While I, like you, am glad for the degree of recovery the author has achieved, it would not be a book for me; I have so many which are of greater interest. But a great review. And agin – now at your house – 🙂 – Happy Christmas.

    • Denzil

      Thanks Jeanne, yes Hans hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I hope you are enjoying Lisa Jewell’s “The House We Grew Up In”. I do rate her very highly, as you know. Merry Christmas!

      • It’s a great read, and she’s a terrific writer – so smooth; nothing ever jars you and stops you from reading on. I’m really enjoying it and about 80% done. I know we have another twist coming …

  8. This is a very nice review, Denzil with a balanced perspective and asking all the right questions.

    On a personal level, I am fascinated by people who come through a medical crisis by a seeming miracle. But on the other hand I also believe so much of what we call miraculous is just nature, that sometimes takes its time! Or that the miracle is due to the hard work of therapy.

    Whatever the reason, I am glad this woman found strength and solace through her religious tradition, just as I would feel from someone with a different tradition or none at all. Finding mental and spiritual strength to overcome difficulties can come from a variety of sources which I think we see everyday. Power to human will in whatever form it takes!

    • Denzil

      Hi Laurie, thanks for reading and commenting on this review. I’m glad you found it balanced. And yes I agree, the power of the human will, shown in this lady’s courage, is wonderful to read about.

  9. A very well-balanced review Denzil. It would be easy to dismiss the message from outside the ‘Christian bubble’, but you weigh up all the options and give a thoughtful conclusion.

    • Denzil

      Thank you Andrea, I try to be fair in my reviews, and not let personal opinions or prejudices dominate

    • Denzil

      I think that seems to be the prevailing view from the comments received Carol (that it’s a mixture). Along with delight and relief at her recovery.

  10. Denzil,
    I found your site, and this book, after you mentioned our website spinalcord.com in your review. While I have not read the book yet I think it is important to let readers know that it is not unusual for us to hear about miraculous (maybe miracles?) from time to time. More regularly we hear about those who experience paralysis regaining some movement or mobility through hard work. This involves activity based therapy, often 3 hours/day 5 days/week for years. In most cases like this doctors tell survivors they will never walk again, why? I don’t know but the reality is that with most injuries walking may be unlikely.

    For those of you interested in seeing what regaining mobility can look like I encourage you to watch this video where more than a dozen individuals who were told they had little to no chance of walking again walked across a red carpet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UumO5HiJQCI To learn more about this gym/group and the therapy they provide here is a link to the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nextsteporlando/

    I hope some of you find the information interesting.

    -VInny

    • Denzil

      Hello Vinny and thanks so much for visiting, reading and commenting. I found your comments very interesting. And thanks too for posting this inspirational video, which I really recommend all readers of this blog post to watch (P.S. Make sure you have a box of tissues close by!).

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