Sharon McLennan knew she was in trouble. She went to bed, feeling very fatigued, and was awakened early in the morning by feelings of nausea and stomach cramping. She stumbled down the hall, feeling a strange dizziness, her arms tingling, and her breathing labored. As her body purged itself, the symptoms worsened. Suddenly she realized – she wasn’t just sick; her heart was beating very irregularly . . . and she was completely unaware that her uncooperative heart wasn’t the only threat to her life that God would intervene to restore and heal over the next 24 hours!
SETTING THE STAGE
Jack and Sharon McLennan have attended Peoples Church in Salem, Oregon, for about a quarter-century. Now greeters on Sunday mornings and volunteers for special events, the couple have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren than span four generations attending the church.
In late March/early April, Sharon started struggling with fatigue, that slowly seemed to grow. Jack says he encouraged her to visit her doctor, but Sharon resisted, believing she was going to be “just fine.”
But shortly after 3 a.m. on April 23, Sharon realized she was in mid-heart attack — she started calling to Jack from the bathroom to call 9-1-1. But being in a deep sleep, Jack did not hear the sound of Sharon’s repeated calls, which began to grow weaker and weaker. She knew that if she couldn’t make it back to the room and awaken Jack, she likely would die there on the bathroom floor.
“It took me a while, but I managed to make it down the hall — I was so dizzy,” Sharon says. “I woke Jack and told him to call an ambulance. He had no idea what had been going on, so he offered to drive me, but I kept telling him, ‘Call the ambulance.’”
By 3:45 a.m. seven fire fighters and paramedics were crowded into the McLennan’s bedroom, working over Sharon. Things looked grim. She later found out that on the trip to the hospital, the paramedics had to “paddle” her heart, shocking it to re-establish a rhythm. The fact Sharon had insisted on calling for an ambulance likely saved her life.
Meanwhile, about 2,000 miles away, Michelle, the McLennan’s daughter-in-law, was awakened out of her sleep, with the Holy Spirit placing an urging upon her heart to pray. She took it seriously, going to her prayer closet, and praying fervently that God would intervene on behalf of whoever it was that needed prayer.
COVID-19 COMES IN TO PLAY
With Jack reaching out to their son, Michael (Michelle’s husband), and asking him and their prayer group to pray in Texas, Jack arrived at the ER just as Sharon was being wheeled in, with their daughter, Sarah, arriving not long after. The doctor immediately ordered a battery of tests on Sharon, including taking a COVID-19 swipe, while she was in the receiving area waiting for a room to become available.
“I didn’t feel very good, but I felt like at least someone was helping and getting the AFib [Atrial Fibrillation] under control,” Sharon says.
Through the process of testing, Sharon and Jack soon learned that she was severely dehydrated (with Sharon receiving bag after bag of saline solution through an IV), she had a dangerous urinary tract infection (UTI), and she was put on oxygen as her oxygen level had dropped to 87% as she was still struggling to breathe.
Soon after she got into a room, the radiologist brought in an X-ray machine to check her lungs. Then the results of the COVID-19 test came back — suddenly nurses were heavily gowned in plastic and face-masked as they continued their work on Sharon. She had not only tested positive for COVID-19, but her breathing difficulties were now easily explained as her X-rays showed she had “COVID-pneumonia” in both lungs.
“We called 9-1-1 because we thought Sharon was having a heart attack, and the paramedics treated her as if she was having a heart attack,” Jack says, “but as soon as they diagnosed COVID at the hospital, that’s all they wanted to do was talk to us about COVID, when our greatest concern was her heart — the Lord absolutely completely took over on that part.”
Although the McLennan’s were concerned about Sharon’s heart, as she had open heart surgery in 2015, the doctors’ concerns were focused on her lungs because things were looking far more serious than Jack or Sharon could ever have imagined just a few short hours ago.
Sarah, the McLennan’s daughter, recalls, “[The doctor] said her situation was very serious and they were placing her in the ICU. The gravity of the lung diagnosis being double pneumonia, her fever, the amount of oxygen her lungs were requiring, and her heart condition were also a factor. He then told me to consider myself highly exposed to someone with COVID-19.”
Throughout the rest of the day, nurses continued to perform tests and check on Sharon’s vital signs. Earlier a doctor had informed the family that Sharon would be hospitalized a minimum of five to seven days, due to COVID protocols. However, Sharon’s oxygen level returned to 100% and she was able to be taken off of oxygen that afternoon.
During the morning, Jack also contacted Tom Murray, then pastor-elect of Peoples Church, who committed to pray and ask others to pray as well. “There were many people praying for Sharon,” Jack says.
“Facts are facts,” Sarah states. “But I believe that Truth in God’s Word overrides the facts. I made the decision to put my faith and trust in the Word of God instead of all the things that could go wrong or that she may not make it. It would be a fight either way. I chose the fight where I believe the Word of God and I refused to speak anything that is the opposite of the Scriptures.”
Early Saturday morning, a little more than 24 hours from being admitted to the hospital, nurses once again took an X-ray of Sharon’s lungs to see if the COVID-pneumonia was spreading, delivering the results to the doctor. Upon seeing the new X-rays, the doctor requested a set of Sharon’s X-rays from 2019. He was stumped. This didn’t make any sense at all!
He entered Sharon’s room, shaking his head. He told them, “I don’t know how to explain this, I’ve never seen this before, but we cannot find a trace of fluid on your wife’s lungs, there’s no evidence of COVID, and she’s not contagious.”
He then put up the X-ray from Friday and the X-ray from Saturday on a monitor, showing the clear signs of pneumonia in Sharon’s lungs on Friday and then the clean, clear lungs that showed up in Saturday’s X-ray, which matched the X-ray taken two years prior.
“You mean, there’s no fluid on her lungs at all?” Jack confirmed. “And this also means she’s not contagious?”
“Contagious for what?” the doctor responded. “There’s not a trace of COVID in her body and we don’t have anything to hold you in the hospital for.”
When Sarah arrived shortly afterwards, the doctor stopped her in the hall, again confirming — he was perplexed . . . her fever was gone, she was walking around her room and eating, all the pneumonia in both lungs was completely gone, and she had no proof of COVID.
“I told the doctor about all the prayers, and I said, ‘Hallelujah, it’s a miracle!’” Sarah says. “Although the doctor did not verbally confirm, he did shake his head yes, and that was enough for us.”
Just to make sure that Sharon was no longer in danger, the doctor agreed to keep her at the hospital one more day, discharging her at 10 a.m. Sunday morning with a clean bill of health.
SHARING THE MIRACLE
For too many people, when a miracle takes place in their lives, they shy away from sharing the good news as they fear it may draw attention to themselves rather than God or be taken as some type of bragging.
Murray, the McLennan’s pastor, strongly disagrees with this mindset.
“It’s thrilling about what happened,” he says of the McLennans. “And they have been so faithful to tell the story! When God gives us a testimony by performing a miracle in our lives, He is looking for us to be faithful with that story — and share it.”
In fact, Murray had his team video Sharon and Jack as they told the incredible story of what God had done. He then played the video testimony in all three of the Sunday morning services.
“Since the video was played, I’ve had a ton of people coming up and asking me about it and then many of them have said they’ve had a miracle too,” Sharon says. “I tell them they need to tell their story . . . to show that God is definitely still in the healing business. I believe that as long as God gets the credit and the glory, you have to share it.”
The McLennans believe that when people keep God’s miracles in their lives to themselves, others aren’t encouraged — may not realize how God is at work — and allow fear to control their lives instead.
“If God is in charge, God is in charge,” Sharon says. “You either walk in fear or walk in faith. If you walk in faith, there’s no need to fear.”