God and Medicine

About once a year I read a story of a person of supposed deep faith losing a child to a treatable illness because they prayed for the child rather than taking them to the doctor. Dale Neumann is such a person. He prayed his daughter would recover from diabetes. He and many other people prayed but his daughter ended up dying.  Mr. Neumann was then convicted of second degree reckless homicide with up to 25 years in prison. He may have quoted the Bible in his defense, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will
raise him up.” James 5:15. You would think Mr. Neumann had great faith, yet he must not have had enough, because his child is dead.

My usual response to this situation is to tell the crazy story of the guy caught in a flood. “Lord save me from this flood!” Soon after his prayer, a rescue party comes by in a boat and calls out to the man to get in and come to safety. The man refuses saying that he has someone else rescuing him. He then prays to God asking why He has not come to save him yet. By this time the man has climbed up on the roof of his house. The waters are rising. A helicopter arrives and offers to carry him to safety.He refuses the rescue as before. The water keeps rising and he ends up drowning in the flood. When he arrives at the pearly gates he asks Father Abraham why his prayer was not answered. God replies, “I did, but both times you refused to listen. I sent the boat and I sent the helicopter.” This story reveals a scriptural concept that God often uses secular means to deliver his answers.
Medicine is likewise often God's answer to prayer.

From a theological perspective, God heals in three different ways in scripture: 1. The body heals itself (i.e. A cut on the finger heals – our bodies are marvelously designed by God.) 2. The body heals with the aid of others (God uses doctors and medicine to heal. St. Luke himself was a medical doctor.) 3. God directly heals the body with a miracle.

The question arises then, which solution should we seek as Christians? The quick answer is to seek all of the above solutions and definitely go to the doctor so we are not accused of reckless homicide. However, before we answer so quickly, lets learn the story of King Asa.God gave Asa a disease the doctors could not treat in order to teach Asa a lesson about trust: “The events of Asa's reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers.”   

Asa actually was a faithful to God until the last years of his life. He had trusted in his own decision making in battle and now he trusted in only physicians with this disease. We get the impression if he turned to the Lord for help he would have been healed. It was not evil that King Asa used physicians. What was evil is that he did not turn to the Lord for help. It reminds us that in all of our diseases and ailments, we should always go to the Lord for help, not just first but all the way through our afflictions. Jesus indeed healed in Bible days, he can still heal today. God may use the doctor, he may do a miracle, but the point is to trust him all the way through.

Mr. Neumann did have faith, but his faith was self centered: He expected God to do a miracle for him. We should have faith like this, to trust that God indeed can do miracles, but He may want us to use the means he has provided already, physicians included!