Thursday, May 19, 2011


The word faith is a complex concept to wrap my mind around sometimes. Words like belief and hope and certainty come to mind when describing faith. But what is it that we are hoping for or believing in? I am guilty sometimes of inwardly scoffing at my patients who choose not to seek a potentially life-saving treatment or surgery because they prefer to pray and ask God to heal them. The years of medical training in me try to convince me that God can heal them--through surgery or some expensive treatment regimen that costs more than the family makes. I try to justify that I have faith that they can be healed as well, if they follow the prescribed treatment plan, or if we raise enough money to cover the costs. And, I am not so nieve as to think that everyone who turns down medical treatment does it for faith's sake. There are a lot of people who just don't like going to the doctor or traveling to the big city.

A little girl came to clinic last month with a skull fracture from a fall and I referred her to the National Hospital. The family reported back that the National Hospital referred them on to the city because she would need specialty care not offered locally. They decided to pray about it because they did not have the funds to go, and after seeing improvement in the girl's appetite and relief of pain and vomiting, decided not to go for the MRI or the surgery. They said they trusted her life to God and believed that he could heal her. If she worsened they would consider taking her in. They graciously declined our offer to pay for the MRI and the transportation costs.
We have patients all the time with incurable illnesses or even curable ones with the right (expensive) work-up/treatments. These are the ones that make me rethink our modern approach to medicine of full-court press to the last breath. If we really only believe in our technological and scientific advances to heal and save us, what does that say about our faith in God? I am not trying to bash medicine. I love my profession and the fact that there are a lot of illnesses that God allows us heal quickly and easily with surgery or medicine, giving us more comfortable and productive lives. But I keep wondering how much I really believe that God can and will heal someone by faith alone. Why is it easy for us to forget that if God has the power to create the world, to form us, to heal people of incurable illnesses (blindness, leprosy, death) while here on earth, and to come back from the dead, that he still can today, especially if it glorifies him?

In our statement of faith we are stating that we do believe that God has the power to raise from the dead. (Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved). If we really believe that, then we can believe that he can heal us when needed (without medical intervention) if it is his will to do so.

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:11-14

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