I’ve had my share of doctor’s office visits. Back in 2005, I had an over-night heart procedure at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. My heart has been ticking just fine ever since, and I continue to maintain an active cardio work-out routine. Now, fourteen years later, I am able to live and do as though I have never had a heart issue before. For me, this raises a theological question: did my cardiac surgeon heal me of this cardiac condition? As a person of faith in general, and Christian in particular, my answer is no. Don’t get me wrong, I like doctors. My mother-in-law is one—so I better like them if I know what is good for my future well-being. Yet, I firmly believe that doctors can’t heal because medical doctors are not God. Only God has the power to heal our diseases.
Before you think I’ve lost it, please hear me out! I am not suggesting that people of faith should abandon modern medicine. If you are sick, go see your doctor, or head straight to the emergency room. My point is that we should not equate the source of our healing with its means. God is the source of our physical and emotional healing while, at the same time, choosing modern medicine as a secondary cause, or means, for such healing. God is the source, medicine is the means. Therefore, the advances in medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical training and preparation for physicians are all gifts from our generous God that we ought to appreciate.
John Calvin, my vicarious theological mentor, put it this way: “Now our duty is clear, namely, since the Lord has committed to us the defense of our life – defend it; since he offers assistance – use it; since he forewarns us of danger – [do] not to rush on heedless; since he supplies remedies – [do] not…neglect them.” Having established that God has ordained medicine as one cause for the preservation of life, we ought to lament and pray for those who cannot afford, or do not have access to, adequate medical care. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
(Rev. Will Wilson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Kilgore. Contact him at email@example.com)