Lightning is both fascinating and frightening.
It’s for a good reason we fear it. Lightning strikes more than 500 people every year in the U.S., killing about 100. A single shaft of lightening can generate up to 200 million volts of electricity and heat the air around it to 56,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This rapid heating of the air causes a massive compression wave, which we hear as thunder. When lightning hits the ground it melts the dirt into glass, splits trees in half, and starts raging forest fires. So we can easily imagine the harm it does when it strikes people. Typical results include burns, paralysis, cardiac arrest, and death.
This is why scientists and medical doctors are amazed when, on very rare occasions, lightening actually cures people. Consider Mary Clamser of Oklahoma City. This woman had multiple sclerosis which paralyzed for twenty-three years—until lightning struck her in a 1994 thunderstorm. Just hours after the hospital treated her for burns, she began to feel a tingling sensation in her legs. Within a few days she was able to walk for the first time in more than twenty years. A year later she walking perfectly normal.
There are others. Edwin Robinson had lost his hearing and sight in an automobile accident. After lightning struck him in 1980, both came back. In an article from The Times Online, Paul Simons reported an elderly Birmingham woman who was hurled into the air and burned by a powerful blast of lightning. The next day she found that her hands were no longer swollen from arthritis. In fact, she continued to improve in the days to come. For the first time in many years, she could cook and clean for herself.
And then there’s Tony Cicoria. He’s a surgeon who a bolt of lightning nearly killed in 1994. But the lightning did not heal him. Instead, he was transformed. Dr. Cicoria suddenly became passionate about music—something neither he nor his family cared or even knew anything about. Dr. Cicoria became endowed with apparent musical gifts, could hear tunes in his head, and composed many songs following his near-fatal encounter with lightening. But, Simons gives this warning, “anyone looking for their own miracle is strongly advised not to stand outside in a thunderstorm—lightning kills far more people than it cures.”
That’s good advice.
What fool would ever invite such a notorious killer as lightning to strike him for the purpose of curing his aches and pains? Yet people do similar things.
Justifying Bad Behavior
They engage in other harmful practices and then justify their behavior by highlighting its benefits. You will always hear someone praising the merits of drug use—that it broadens the mind. Many will recommend smoking—that it’s relaxing. People will even advocate for expressing unrestrained anger—that it’s emotionally therapeutic. There’ll always be someone who sings the praise of alcohol abuse—that it relieves stress, or of promiscuity—that it prevents sexual frustration.
I suppose you’ll find a few out there who are sure they’ve been helped by one of these things. But there are many times more who lightning hurts. I suspect a person is as likely to benefit from a bolt lightening as he is to find a cure in such harmful practices.
God has a better idea of how to grow and prosper. Consider the words of Scripture: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you…” (Deut. 30:15-16).
Dear Father in heaven, You created me and You know what’s best for me. Please help me to trust in Your love and wisdom and to obey Your holy word. Amen.