“For five days, says Lennie Jernigan, an attorney, “we prayed for our daughter with a passion uncommon to both of us. And we waited for the diagnosis.”
The parents suspected that something was wrong when Elizabeth after her “right eyelid began to weaken a bit; the pupil seemed slow to respond to light. Such small signs, and they came and went; she seemed happy and healthy, so her parents expected that the problem would clear up by itself.”
The baby’s grandfather, Isaac Manly, a Harvard trained surgeon, was worried about the child’s symptoms but didn’t want to frighten her parents. He gently suggested a trip to the ophthalmologist, which led to the pediatrician, then the neurologist.
However, the problem did not clear up and then Elizabeth’ parents agreed to exploratory surgery, which carried a 1-in-5 chance of leaving Elizabeth permanently brain damaged. Surgeons removed part of the tumor from the nerve that controls the movement of the right eye. Trying to get at the rest of it was too dangerous. But when they were finished and the pathology reports came back, the news could not possibly have been worse. Their baby was suffering from an extremely rare malignant meningioma which has killed everyone who has ever had it. Her prognosis: continued growth of the aggressive tumor, grievous paralysis and certain death.
The heartbroken parents prayed for strength and understanding. “Of course there was no explanation,” recalls Lennie, “only a stony silence. We prayed for Elizabeth and for ourselves; our friends prayed; our church prayed. Betsy and I merely asked that his will be done. We knew that she could be healed if it were his will, but we were also prepared to accept her death.”
Elizabeth’s grandfather, who practiced medicine for 39 years, recalls his frustration. “Initially, I prayed for guidance that we be led to the right doctors, and for compassionate care, and that our family be upheld in our inevitable suffering. I did not have the faith to pray for healing of this known malignancy.”
But things went from bad to worse. Fluid began accumulating on Elizabeth’s brain; doctors had to keep going in with a large needle to relieve the pressure. She grew lethargic, nauseated. The doctors said she would need more surgery to insert shunts that would drain the fluid. With that operation two days away, the parents tried one last hope. What could it hurt?
The night before the scheduled shunt surgery, a doctor arrived in Elizabeth’s hospital room and removed so much thick, infected fluid from her brain that he asked to postpone the operation for a few days. But 12 hours later, when he returned to do another tap, he could barely find any fluid, and it was totally clear. The doctor was baffled. Elizabeth was back home two days later. “We now know it was one of those lesser miracles that presage a greater miracle,” her grandfather says.
A month after the first operation, the same surgeons made a last-ditch effort to remove the rest of the tumor. But when they went into Elizabeth’s brain, they couldn’t find the lesion. As planned, they removed a section of the nerve that the cancer had invaded, knowing that it would leave her blind in her right eye but agreeing that it represented her best hope of surviving. When the tissue was examined, the pathologist could not find any cancer. Regular cat scans since then have revealed no evidence of a tumor. The medical community calls what happened “spontaneous resolution,” as to put “supernatural healing” into the medical journals as an explanation might not go down so well. However, the family calls it a miracle. That the radical healing took place after the parents prayers strongly points to that conclusion.
This June, Elizabeth will turn 13. “In the years ahead,” Lennie Jernigan has told people, “if you happen to see a young girl walking down the street with her right eye permanently closed, please don’t think that some tragedy has befallen her and extend your sympathy. Instead, have cheerful thoughts, knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells in her, and our God is powerful, benevolent and magnificent.”
This reminds me of a very recent interview I had with a South African pastor, David. David had been in the ministry for 37 years, and of course I asked if he had seen anything similar to what we have with Elizabeth. However, he made it quite clear that he was not looking for these sorts of miracles but rather had a different focus on preaching and ministering. Nonetheless, he affirmed that when he prayed and anointed with oil a deformed baby that was soon to die the baby then recovered fully. David was invited to the child’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th birthday parties. However, when doctors confirmed this remarkable recovery one of them said to David: “I don’t believe in God, but whatever you did worked.”
Read the full article on Elizabeth.