#2 God is the source of all healing, and desires to heal His people and move us toward wholeness.
We humans are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139: 13-16 phrases it this way as translated in the Message version of the Bible:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration – what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
In our reductionist world (especially in the healthcare fields – or should I say disease management field) we too often forget that we as ser humanos (human beings) are intimately know by our creator and that He has made us to be integrated/whole/complete in mind, body and spirit. And He has designed us in such a way that our physical dis-eases are generally resolved by our own immune system. Studying this system of the body during medical school was fascinating, and not just a little difficult, as we learned the intricacies of how God has designed us to heal ourselves in most cases. But too often, through no fault of our own, (though in our modern day this is probably due more to own actions) we are smitten with a physical illness that we need help with. For this reason God has granted us the grace of discovering His knowledge of various elements that aid healthcare professionals in helping us overcome our dis-eases. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives as has modern surgical and anesthesia techniques. But it is all too easy for us to forget and acknowledge the true source of this knowledge. We become puffed up with our own ability to innovate and discover and fail to give credit to our Creator for making these things known to us. This dis-integration of what God intended to be whole has led to the mechanistic approach to caring for those suffering from illness. Perhaps a story from Africa will help illustrate the point.
A story from the DR Congo as told by the master story teller, Dr Daniel Fountain:
John Malinga, an 18-year-old high school student, was admitted to our hospital in Africa with advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. He complained of a chronic cough, fever, and loss of appetite and weight. His sputum contained many tubercle bacilli.
Tuberculosis is a physical disease affecting primarily the lungs. The cause is a bacteria whose characteristics are well known. The treatment is physical, with numerous effective medicines being available. Nutritional improvement and general hygienic measures are also a necessary part of the treatment.
As soon as John’s diagnosis was confirmed, we began treating him with a combination of three medicines. However, during the first month of treatment, John did not improve. The cough, fever, and weight loss continued. We presumed that his tubercle bacilli were resistant to the medicines being used, so we stopped these and started three other more effective and very expensive medicines. But in spite of this, the fever, cough, and weight loss progressed· and John’s condition steadily worsened.
One.of our student nurses, Denise Katay, was caring for John, and she discovered a very significant element in his medical history. His parents had borrowed money from an uncle to pay for his high school education. The uncle demanded reimbursement, but the parents were unable to do this. In anger, the uncle put a curse on John in his presence, saying that John would become ill and die in spite of whatever treatment he might receive. We now knew why he was indeed dying of tuberculosis.
This history made it clear that fear and despair were depressing John’s immune mechanisms and recuperative powers. Anti-tuberculosis medicines do not destroy tubercle bacilli. They act on the bacilli to reduce their virulence and make them more susceptible to the natural defenses of the body. But it is the body (and not the medicines) that destroys and eliminates the bacilli. Furthermore, the body must repair the tissues damaged by the bacilli. In John, neither process was functioning.
Denise shared her faith with John and, after some days, he entered into a personal relationship with Christ. During further conversations, Denise asked him who he considered to be more powerful: Jesus Christ or his uncle. John was aware that he now belonged to Christ, and he now recognized that the power of Christ surpassed the destructive power of his uncle. He and Denise prayed together, asking for Christ’s healing power and for his protection.
Denise then tackled a much more difficult problem. She asked John if his uncle had done him wrong. “Of course, he tried to kill me!” She read him the words of Jesus about forgiving those who do us wrong and asked John if he could forgive his uncle. This was difficult; how could he forgive someone who wanted him to die? Mrs Masieta (the Vanga hospital pastoral care coordinator) explained that forgiveness is not excusing or denying the reality of the offense. Rather, it is releasing the offending person into the hands of God, who is the only true judge. John finally released this uncle to God in prayer and asked God to heal the anger and hatred in his heart. God did, and within a few days John’s fever disappeared, his appetite returned, and he went on to a complete recovery, healed in body, mind, and spirit. This is what God through Christ wants to do for anyone who acknowledges Him as Lord. This is true health and wholeness and it can be found in no one else.
This is the blog for the Best Practices in Global Health Mission division of the Center for the Study of Health in Mission. It is a space for all who are interested in sharing opinions, ideas and best practices having to do with Christ centered health related ministry.