As I read through old church periodicals like the Millennial Star and the Liahona and the Church News, I have seen hundreds upon hundreds of accounts of blessings given by elders followed by reportedly miraculous healings. Sometimes the reports have been given by the elders, sometimes by the patients themselves. Yet until today I have not passed any of these stories along to Keepa readers.
It isn’t because I don’t believe in the power of faith, priesthood, and blessings; I do. It isn’t because I doubt all of these reports; I don’t. I do have questions about healings following blessings: Why are some blessings for health successful, and others are not? Was there really any element of the miraculous involved when someone who has been suffering from a severe cold for three days is blessed and then two days later is up and about again? Isn’t that pretty much the course of a cold?
And it isn’t because I doubt the sincerity of those who tell about witnessing miraculous healings. While I wasn’t there to witness my grandmother’s childhood healing from diphtheria, I heard the story from her more than once, told with a certainty that she had been saved from death by a priesthood blessing; I believed her. And I’ve played a role in events that doubtless appeared totally mundane from the outside, yet have had an unmistakable witness of the miraculous to those of us involved.
Mostly, I suppose, I pass over these potential stories because too many details are lacking: I’ve got the word of the elder or the one healed, but nothing else. I can’t bear someone else’s testimony.
Recently, though, I came across the account of a blessing and healing with enough detail to offer the story as a candidate for an instance of miraculous healing. It concerns Clark Hamblin (1917-2007) of Eagar, Arizona, a grandson of Jacob Hamblin; Clark served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Stationed at San Francisco, Clark was an active member of the San Francisco ward, and a faithful observer of the Word of Wisdom, a factor he credited in his recovery from an accident in August, 1944. Clark was occupied in unloading materials from the back of a truck, unaware that the parking brake on an automobile uphill from him had failed, and that the car was rolling downhill toward him. The heavy, driveless car struck Clark at great speed, crushing both his legs to the point that mangled and broken bones pierced the skin.
In extreme pain, Clark didn’t pass out until he was put under anesthesia at the Naval Hospital on Treasure Island at the beginning of what turned out to be nearly six hours of surgery. After hours of attempting to piece together the bones of Clark’s right leg, the surgeons decided to amputate – only the willingness of one surgeon to keep trying spared him that loss. He was given a great deal of donated blood, and put in a body cast.
Word of his injuries reached members of the San Francisco ward on the following day, a Sunday. The ward joined in prayer for him, and two elders immediately went to the hospital to administer to him. Regulations prohibited visitors to patients in Clark’s critical condition, but when told that members of his church were there to see him, Clark begged that they be allowed to come. They were admitted, and gave Clark a blessing.
A few days later, Clark’s condition suddenly worsened. He was rushed into surgery, where his ruptured appendix was removed. A few days later, he suffered an attack of hives and was again in agony. Then abruptly his condition changed, and he made such rapid progress that his body cast was removed after only three weeks. Doctors were astonished that Clark could move his knees, and that from hip to ankle, his bones had set straight and were knitting firmly together. One of them explained their astonishment to Clark: None of his doctors had expected he would ever walk again.
He was expected to lie in the hospital for at least ten months. Instead, seven weeks following the accident, Clark Hamblin walked into the San Francisco chapel to attend stake conference. “That was a perfect day,” he said. “As sure as I live I know that if those prayers weren’t offered, if I hadn’t been administered to and hadn’t been living the Word of Wisdom, I would be on my back in casts at Treasure Island instead of walking on my legs and being able to attend church once again, which I missed so much.”