Faith Versus Medicine: My Thoughts

Religion and Medicine

There’s a myth brewing in our society that I’ve tuned into recently, and it’s unsettling. This myth, this division, is the belief held by some that medicine and God are on two opposite teams of health care, and I believe there are two extremes.

Extreme 1: Doesn’t the Bible say that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains? Surely I’ve got enough faith in God to have Him cure my cold, my strep, my whooping cough, or that of my children, right? I mean, how much faith does that require, an eighth of a mustard seed? A sixteenth? Lord, increase my faith and cure my kid/self/spouse/parent/etc.

Extreme 2: Medicine cures everything, and we should always take medicines for every ailment. After all, God wants us to be well and to be able-bodied to serve Him, right? So pop a pill and move on with your life.

I wonder, though, why these things are so often seen and perpetuated as enemies. Could it be that they’re not made to be enemies, but to be partnered? Should Christian doctors not pray before treating? Better yet, should they not pray that the Lord will heal without intervention first, then heal WITH the intervention? We, in the United States, seem to take for granted that the Z-Pack will work, that the Tylenol will fix our headaches and the baby aspirin will help our hearts. But, how did we get to this place? How did we get to where medicine is such an understood part of our our daily lives, to where we could have not only one medicine for allergies, but hundreds?

As I think about how medicines are created, I’m always astonished with the Lord’s hand in it all. I mean, does anybody else think, “Hey, there’s greenish blue stuff growing on my bread! I wonder what would happen if I ingest this? Would my earache get better?” I know I surely don’t. It’s my belief that this, too, was an act of the Lord and one He allows to keep happening, over and over again, as new medicines are being created.

I mean, let’s face it, when left to our own devices, human beings are not the most intelligent or disciplined people. Go all the way back to the beginning, you faith-filled people, and look at Adam and Eve. They had ONE rule, one thing God told them not to do, and it was pretty straightforward. It wasn’t as if God asked Adam to hold the stars in line, create water, build animals and keep them functioning! Nope, all they had to do was abstain, to not eat fruit from one tree. Yet, they couldn’t. And, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have lasted as long as they did. So the fact that God allows us, as humans, to find medicines to help us is truly amazing; there’s no way we could have done all this on our own.

I also believe that God decides when medicines will and will not work. What other explanation do we have for the headache that won’t go away, for the chemo that won’t heal cancer, or, better yet, when they do? Isn’t it the Lord who numbers our days? I don’t know why medicines work some times and don’t others, but I believe that God’s hand is in it all. So, as we go from here, let’s choose to give credit not to inanimate pills, but rather, the One who made all pills possible. Further still, I’ll praise Him when they work and I’m able to continue work for HIS kingdom! Yes, we should absolutely thank the doctors and nurses that had to remember protocols in order to get us the medicines correctly, who had to listen to our complaints and ailments and sift through the muck to find the morsels. But, let’s not forget that God ordained that doctor, at His perfect timing, to remember the protocols in the precise moment that our lives intersected his or hers.

If you’ve made it this far in this post, you should know that I absolutely believe that there are fields of medicine in which we’ve taken it too far. I do not believe that every doctor is benevolent and seeking the will of the Lord; absolutely not. But, does God still use people, in His plan, who are not seeking Him and His glory, to point back to the heart of the Father and to carry out His plans? Absolutely. If that weren’t true, He’d never have used a human being because we’re flawed to the very core.

When Justin and I discussed this, we talked about various natural remedies that we try, such as honey instead of cough syrup for our kids over two years old (under two just cough all night and we sit up with them), but overwhelmingly he said that he’d prefer to let “all natural” parents just be that: all natural. He’d prefer doing nothing over doing oils, taking herbs, etc. Those things, for the most part, haven’t been tested or studied long-term and in broad spectrums, so there’s risk with all of it. There’s risk with medicines from your doctor, from not taking medicines, from taking remedies or not. There’s risk in medicine, in car rides, in nurseries, in bathtubs. So, we don’t give our kids medicines unless it’s really evident that they’re necessary. Hannah has had maybe two rounds of antibiotics in her 14 months of life, we don’t use allergy medicine often and pain meds are hard to find in our medicine cabinets (after teething, if I’m honest). But, I digress…

So, my call to Christians is this: Let’s trust the One who created our bodies and stop allowing this division to permeate our minds, hearts and churches. Let’s thank God for making our bodies truly miraculous machines, for creating the medicines we may or may not use that help so many, and praise Him. There is no risk-free way to care for our bodies in this broken world. It’s sad, but one day, we’ll be before the King, in the middle of golden streets with whole bodies who will be able to dance for eternity with no problems at all. That we can all agree on.