REAL POWER: MAXING OUT ON GOD'S LOVE
HEALING OR WHOLENESS?
In 1973, I worked at a mission
hospital in a remote section of East Africa. The hospital was called
Tenwek, and was more than eight hours out of Nairobi by unpaved
roads. I performed a three month externship learning about tropical
medicine and surgery. I scrubbed in surgery, delivered babies, gave
general anesthetics, and treated patients on the wards.
Tenwek was a ďbeds optionalĒ
hospital. It was chronically overcrowded with one hundred beds for
two hundred patients. There were patients everywhere; some were in
the beds, some under the beds, and many beside the beds. People
didnít care whether they had a bed as long as they received the best
Dr. Ernie Steury started the hospital
many years previously in a single tiny room, and it had grown into a
sprawling facility covering several acres. At the entrance to the
hospital there was a sign that said, ďDoctors treat and God heals.Ē
This was not meant to be a self-effacing billboard. It simply stated
a fundamental truth most people overlook. The sign reminded everyone
that healing comes from God and is an expression of his love.
You can be grateful that God didnít
design and create disposable human beings. If that was the case, and
you became sick or something broke, you would be tossed on the trash
heap. Instead, He placed the power of healing into your body. God
meant for you to live a long and fruitful life. He created your body
so it would heal itself thousands of times during your lifetime. God
designed healing into your body as an expression of his love. Every
time you recover from an illness, you have another reminder that God
loves you with an everlasting love.
DOCTORS TREAT AND GOD
Is it really true that doctors treat
and God heals?
After practicing medicine for more
than thirty years, I am convinced this statement is the truth. This
doesnít diminish the importance of the work that I do as a physician.
Rather, it recognizes the fact that God placed the power of healing
into your body. The work that I do as a doctor assists the healing
forces that God already has at work there.
Physicians perform surgery to alter
your anatomy in a favorable direction so that Godís healing power can
work its magic. Doctors use medication to alter your physiology in a
favorable manner so healing can occur.
As a retina surgeon, I treat and God
heals. My job is to help God do his work. Most of what I do is
fairly basic. I tilt the anatomy and physiology of the eye in a
favorable direction so healing can occur. I canít take credit for the
healing power that God placed in the human body. I have used that
power to benefit my patients, but I didnít create it. It came
straight from the hand of God. Itís a humbling experience to practice
medicine in partnership with God.
When I dispense antibiotics to fight
infection, the antibiotic tips the balance in favor of the patient.
It gives him a decisive advantage enabling his immune system to fight
off infection. The antibiotics are the reinforcements and ammunition
the body needs to win the battle.
Many infections are self-limited, and
the body can take care of them without outside assistance. We joked
about this fact in medical school by reciting the First Rule of
Medicine: ďHurry up and treat the patient before he gets better.Ē
On the other hand, infections like
meningococcal meningitis are usually fatal if left untreated. Some
infections are so virulent that your body cannot fight them off
without outside help. In these instances, without antibiotics you
would die. But without the bodyís immune system leading the fight,
you would die as well. Both must be present in order to survive.
I would never do anything to diminish
the importance of what we do as physicians, because without our
treatments many of our patients would die or suffer serious
complications. Nevertheless, medical and surgical treatments are not
what does the healing. They only shift the balance in favor of the
healing power that God placed into your body.
When I am seriously ill, I see a
doctor. I know that positive thinking and prayer will not cure my
illness. My body needs as much help as it can get, so I take the
treatment prescribed by my doctor, and I leave the rest up to God.
LIFE IS A TERMINAL
In medical school we considered death
to be the enemy. If a patient died while we were on duty, there would
be a lot of explaining to do. A patient may die, but hopefully not on
Most people act as if death is the
enemy, when in fact, death is the final cure for suffering. When you
die, suffering and disease are over, and you are released from the
body that imprisons you. People who have a personal relationship with
God donít worry about death, because they know that when their body
dies, they will finally meet their Father face to face, spirit to
Spirit. For all eternity they will be free from suffering and
No matter how healthy you are or how
good you take care of yourself, you are still going to die. Doctors
may be able to push the day of reckoning into the future by a few
years, but still all of us eventually have a terminal case of some
disease. You would be miserable if you were confined to a worn out
body for eternity. If doctors could keep your body going forever, it
would become your own personal hell.
AM I? MY BODY OR MY SPIRIT?
There is a t-shirt that says, ďI am
eighteen years old with thirty years of experience.Ē I love that
shirt, because it illustrates my human condition. In every age and
stage of life, I have felt in my spirit as if I was eighteen years
old. Unfortunately, my body canít keep pace with my spirit.
In my spirit, I want to sail forever
on my catamaran and cruise the islands of the South Pacific. I want
to get on my windsurfer and fly across the waves. In my spirit, I
want to jump out of airplanes with a parachute on my back.
My fifty year old body doesnít have
the same enthusiasm. My body doesnít want to ache. It doesnít want
to make any more trips to the hospital for orthopedic surgery. My
body loves to watch windsurfing and wave jumping, but there is no way
itís going to get radical about sports. It clearly wants to have
nothing to do with pain and suffering.
Such is the human dilemma. My spirit
wants one thing, and my body wants another. That is why Jesus said,
ďthe spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.Ē No matter what my
spirit wants, itís often hard to get my body to go along for the
ride. We constantly engage in a peculiar inner dialogue in which we
identify with our spirit during certain moments, and at other times we
identify with our bodies. Round and round we go, body or spirit, will
the real me please stand up.
The crux of the matter is this. You
must decide if you are only your body, or if you are an eternal
spirit. If you are only your body, you are in trouble, and misery and
suffering is your destiny. If you are the spirit that lives inside
your body, then you are not only fine, you are on the threshold of a
positive adventure that will last for eternity. And the fact that you
donít have to drag your old body with you into eternity doesnít make
you feel sad. Itís the best news you could ever hear.
People who believe they are only
their bodies and nothing more, have good reason to feel depressed when
their body is sick or in a terminal condition. They are in deep
trouble, and there is no reason for hope. If their body isnít healed,
they are goners. Forever. They have no other option besides
healing. These are the people who try to put handcuffs on God. They
demand healing because they have no other option.
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