Some Said It Thundered: Why Some People Don’t Believe Even After They See

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By Mark Wyatt

On Aug. 27, 2010, I watched a miracle happen. There are all
kinds of miracles, from the unforgettable birth of a child, to the eternal,
grace-filled miracle of someone giving their heart to Jesus, which is the
greatest miracle of all. I have seen both and I bow before God in thanks. But
on this particular night, I saw another miracle, something I had heard about,
but had never witnessed. I saw the lame walk. And so did hundreds of other
people in the room. Since that night, more than 160,000 other people have also
been witnesses to that same miracle through the Internet.

On Monday, August 23, I called my friend Bishop Levy Knox
and asked if he had been to the meetings in downtown Mobile, Ala., that had now
been named the Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival. Levy had just returned from a
trip out of the country, and he had not yet attended, though he wanted to given
a long relationship with Pastor John Kilpatrick, in whose church the meetings
had begun. That same church, Church of His Presence, was now graciously hosting
these citywide meetings every Thursday through Saturday evenings. Levy said
that he would check with his wife, Delia, and possibly meet me there on Friday.

They did come, and what a meeting it was. Before the evening
was over, Delia, paralyzed below the waist and wheelchair bound for more than
22 years, got out of her chair and walked.

Since that night, she has continued to gain strength, and as
of this writing, barely six weeks later, she regularly ministers on her own two
feet every Sunday with her husband at Living Word Christian Center in Mobile.

It just so happens that the church where I pastor, Deeper Life Fellowship, was the last church Delia sang
before her miracle. I was finishing an eight-week sabbatical, and Levy was
filling the pulpit for me that day, Aug. 8, 2010. Delia, as she had for years,
sang powerfully from her wheelchair, and Levy preached a powerful message
proclaiming the arrival of a new season of God’s activity. He had no idea how
right he would prove to be.

I could not wait to show the Knoxes the video of Delia’s
miracle that had been recorded the night she walked. It was as if a bomb
exploded that Sunday morning. People began asking me to post the video on the
website, so on Monday morning, I quickly edited and posted a 13-minute video
that has now, to the best of my knowledge, been seen in every country. The
video went viral immediately, spreading like wildfire in hours.

But not everyone has believed what they have seen.

Within the next few days, other sites began embedding and
featuring the video, sites that allowed viewers to comment on it. I had
disabled the ability to make comments on my YouTube channel because I knew that
Bishop Knox and Lady Delia were still awed by the power of the miracle and,
together, we wanted to protect the holiness of that moment. Besides, I was in
no frame of mind to deal with the critics and the naysayers I knew would start
commenting. And so, as the video spread, and as many people around the world
gave great praise to God, those who just could not believe what they were
watching began to make their presence known.

No matter how much we prepare ourselves for the criticisms
that inevitably come against a move of God, it always takes some time and some
adjustment to calm our frustrations and natural defensiveness. As I read some
of the comments, one in particular struck me. “When these people cause an
amputee’s limbs to grow,” the person said, “then I’ll believe.” And
immediately, something in my spirit responded, “No, you wouldn’t. If you can’t
believe this, you would find some reason not to believe that.” Over the next few
days, the Lord began to speak to me about where to put those kinds of
statements. I knew the miracle was real; I stood 10 feet away and watched as
Delia got up out of her wheelchair. I have known her for years. I know
personally what had happened. Why could they not see?

I believe the answer to this question can be found in John 12:27-30: “Now
My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that
is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” Then a voice came
from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!” The
crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An
angel has spoken to Him!”  Jesus
responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you.”

This passage doesn’t say that it sounded like thunder. It
doesn’t say that the people didn’t clearly hear what God said. I believe that
they heard and understood the words, but because some standing there did not
have the spiritual equipment necessary to identify the realm of heaven, they
chose to rely on their own level of experience to explain it away. Since they
were incapable of recognizing and admitting the reality of the supernatural
activity of God on the earth, they had to assume it was something they already
understood: thunder.

When some watch a paraplegic get out of a wheelchair, or
hear of God opening the eyes of a boy blind in his right eye, or even when they
see the evidence of brain tumors having disappeared, or closed lungs being
becoming clear, they cannot even identify the activity of God because “the god of this age has blinded the minds of the
unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). If they are
still “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), then how can they even
recognize life? In other words, if we who have “eyes to see and ears to hear”
are amazed and rendered speechless by the power of God, how can we rightfully
expect those who don’t yet know Jesus to understand? Instead, for them, it must
be a hoax. The ministers must all be charlatans who are trying to fleece people
and line their own pockets. It must be mass hypnosis. The ones who are walking,
seeing, breathing clearly, must either be simple-minded people or paid actors.
For those who don’t know God, the supernatural experience they are witnessing
must have some natural explanation. And so, they ignore their own senses in
order to make sense of what they see and hear.

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story
of Lazarus (not the one who was raised from the dead) and the Rich Man. After
they both enter eternity, and the Rich Man finds himself in hell, he asks
Abraham, whom he sees in Heaven, for a favor: “‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I
beg you to send [Lazarus] to my father’s house—because I have five brothers—to
warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ “But Abraham
said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ “‘No,
father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will
repent.’ “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the
prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead'”
(Luke 16:27-31).

At one particular showdown with the Pharisees, we see Jesus’
own exasperation with those who said that if He would just give them proof,
they would believe: “The Pharisees came out and began to argue
with Him, demanding of Him a sign from heaven to test Him. But sighing deeply
in His spirit, He said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you:
No sign will be given to this generation!’” (Mark
8:11-12). This absolutely does not mean that we should not want to see
signs and wonders. What is does mean is that if we require a sign in order to believe, we probably won’t get one. And
again, “Jesus said, ‘Because you have
seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed’”
(John 20:29).

In John 3:17-18, Jesus explains
that even though He was not sent into the world to judge the world, that when
He shows up, the world is judged already. This means that when Jesus steps onto
the scene, people whose hearts are already soft toward God will recognize and
follow Him, but those whose hearts have already rejected God and His kingdom,
will automatically reject Jesus because He is God and represents Him. That’s
one of the reasons the Pharisees were in such opposition to Him and His

But is this problem only with people who are staunch
unbelievers? Apparently not. In the book of 2 Kings, we have the story of
Elisha witnessing, up close and personal, the miracle of Elijah’s being taken
up to heaven in a chariot of fire while the “sons of the prophets” (the
seminary students of the day) watched “from a distance” (2
Kings 2:7).

Watch what happens next: “When the sons of the prophets from Jericho, who were facing him, saw
him, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ They came to meet him
and bowed down to the ground in front of him. Then the sons of the prophets
said to Elisha, ‘Since there are 50 strong men here with your servants, please
let them go and search for your master. Maybe the Spirit of the Lord has
carried him away and put him on one of the mountains or into one of the
valleys.’ He answered, ‘Don’t send [them].’ However, they urged him to the
point of embarrassment, so he said, ‘Send [them].’ They sent 50 men, who looked
for three days but did not find him. When they returned to him in Jericho where
he was staying, he said to them, ‘Didn’t I tell you not to go?’” (2 Kings

Did you get that? The ones who were at a distance refused to
believe the one who was right there when it happened! Amazing! But that’s not
all. We see the same thing happen in the New Testament, after the resurrection,
when Jesus appears to the disciples: “Later,
He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He
rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe
those who saw Him after He had been resurrected” (Mark 16:14). And so,
it requires a softness of our own hearts just to believe the testimony of those
who have seen the activity of God. God forbid that He find a reason to rebuke
us while in an atmosphere of His kingdom.

But what about the people in John 12 who thought it was an
angel? Where are they today? Earlier, I mentioned a comment thread on the
Internet where someone put out the challenge of growing an amputee’s limbs.
Further down in that same thread, someone else said something like this: “Oh,
no, I believe this woman walked, because we can do anything we want to when we set
our minds to it and believe in ourselves!” Really? Even the reconnection of
severed nerves in the spinal cord, as in the case of Delia Knox? Those are the
“must have been an angel” people. They know that something is happening that
they can’t explain with their own rationality and experience, but they still
refuse to identify it as the one true and living God among us, known and
revealed through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is what I refer to as the Oprah Winfrey School of Theology: “I am
spiritual enough to believe in a spiritual realm, but I refuse to tie it in
exclusively to Jesus as the only way to know God.”

So then, for those who have seen and heard, and have been
witnesses to the love and goodness of God in miraculous ways, what is our
response? First, we know that it is not profitable or loving to be angry,
defensive and argumentative with those who do not believe. It is supremely
frustrating to have unequivocal, and often medically documented, proof of a
miracle and have someone flatly deny it, and you know that nothing you say will
change their mind.

The classic Philip Yancey quote is
ever true, that “no one ever converted to Christianity
because they lost the argument.” So if we can’t argue them into truth, what
can we do? Well, the Bible says that it is an eye problem. Even Jesus, in John
3, when He explains what it means to be born again, does so in the context of
spiritual sight: “I tell you, no
one can see the kingdom of
God unless they are born again” (John 3:3,
NIV, emphasis added). As we have already seen, people have already been blinded
by the god of this age, and so the remedy is sight, and only the Holy Spirit
can give it. And so we pray for them. We pray, not for their comeuppance, not
for their humiliation, we pray for them to see. We pray that God opens their
eyes to see and their ears to hear what He has prepared for them. “However, as
it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind
has conceived’ the things God has prepared for those who love him’—these are
the things
God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches
all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9,
emphasis added).

And so, whether we are praying for someone who does not know
Jesus yet, or someone who is a Christian but is having difficulty accepting
what they see and hear, we can join with the apostle Paul in praying one of the
most beautiful and powerful prayers ever recorded: “I keep asking that the God
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of
wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of
your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he
has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and
his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the
mighty strength” (Eph.

Mark A. Wyatt pastors Deeper Life Fellowship in
Mobile, Ala.

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