This Spring I also turned thirty…

Hello Blogging Family! I hope you all had a blessed Easter and are enjoying a refreshing April! Spring helps re-focus my eyes on God, our Redeemer who creates clean hearts through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our Creator who treasures the sparrows in their nests and squirrels their hovels. This Spring is particularly meaningful since I’ve just concluded a treatment that began in October 2021. Some of you may remember that I experienced hallucinations and depression starting that Fall, and struggled to overcome them until February 2022. For a variety of reasons, my health care provider enrolled me in a remote therapy program to monitor my mental health for the following year. 

The arguments contrasting secular mental health therapies with Christian alternatives like biblical counseling are quite complex, and I don’t wish to address them in this post. What I do want to talk about is how we Christians think about God and medicine, not snacking on brownies at Bible study, but shivering as we wait for the doctor on one of those systemically uncomfortable exam chairs, or holding our breath before hitting “Log In” to that seemingly unnecessary Zoom appointment.

If there were only one thing I could tell myself back in October 2021, it is that God loves our brains. As Genesis says, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw it was very good!” God could see the future as he admired Adam, his masterpiece. God knew that Adam would fall, that we descendants would get sick and injured, that our brains would deteriorate from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and that we would wreck them ourselves through substance abuse and other addictions. But God still said that this brain he made was very good. 

Not only that, but God completed the Bible centuries before anyone wrote the first psychiatric textbook. If you do a quick “psychiatry” search, you’ll find that Western European scientists didn’t start taking psychiatry seriously until the 19thcentury. Before the 19th century, people often assumed that anyone who had seizures or exhibited abnormal behavior was insane, demon-possessed, or both. But the gospels describe Jesus healing people who were demon-possessed, people who were ill, and people who were epileptic. Jesus’ disciples could tell the difference among the three by around AD 30. If God was so far ahead of us on brain diagnoses, why do we doubt his sufficiency for treatment and healing? 

Perhaps it’s because the Bible doesn’t give step-by-step instructions on what actions to take if your father has a mental breakdown, or your daughter has a seizure, or your mother-in-law has a stroke. Ask any passer-by, on the other hand, and they’ll squint sideways at you, “Call 9-1-1!” 

So how do we integrate trusting God’s power with benefiting from modern medicine? When we look in the Scriptures, we see God use miraculous healing a number of ways. In the Old Testament, he sometimes uses miracles to validate his prophets. One HD example comes from the book of Exodus: God strikes Moses with leprosy, then heals him in the next instant – all to validate Moses has been chosen to deliver Israel. 

In the New Testament, physical healing can also validate salvation. The Gospel of Luke tells the remarkable story of a paralytic who was so determined to be healed that his friends cut a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching and lowered their disabled friend to the ground right in front of Jesus, mid-sermon. (Talk about distractions!) But Jesus doesn’t heal the paralytic’s body; He just tells the man his sins are forgiven. Jesus only heals him physically after the scribes and Pharisees question Jesus’ power to forgive sins. In other words, “If I can cure the physically disabled, what makes you so sure I can’t heal spiritual outcasts too?”  

The fact that Jesus and the Apostles healed any of the paralyzed or lame instantly has become extremely impressive to me after my accident. Some of you might remember I was not able to put any weight on my legs for the first three months of recovery, and it took another six months of multi-hour, daily therapy to learn how to walk well. In short, once you stop using your legs, you have to spend a whole lot of time practicing carefully before you can use them again. So visualizing former cripples jumping up from their mats, and walking and leaping as they praise God, is miraculous on many levels. Jesus didn’t make them “like new,” he made them better than new.

After Jesus ascends to heaven, the Apostles begin healing “in the name of Jesus” to testify to the reality of his resurrection and to their legitimacy as his ordained leaders. As I think about healing this way, I realize its purpose isn’t to fix all my physical and psychological problems. Its point is to glorify God, and prompt others to consider their relationship with him. Do I want to be healed because that would be extremely cool? Or do I want it because healing me would make God look bigger to those around me? 

So far we’ve been looking at why God heals miraculously, but we can also find specific instances in the Bible where he uses  “modern” medicine to heal people. In the book of Isaiah, we read of King Hezekiah getting sick to the point of death. Suddenly the prophet Isaiah shows up with a message from God – and a recipe for a poultice that heals Hezekiah almost instantly. 

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul suggests a home remedy for Timothy’s stomach troubles. James commands church elders to anoint sick congregation members with oil as they pray over them. Today we associate oil with sacred practices, but in ancient times it was also used in many medical cures. Perhaps James is describing a both/and approach: consecrate the sufferer to the Lord first, then pursue whatever treatment is available.

Is there a conclusion to work together from these varicolored yarns? As I said at the beginning of the post, my goal was not to argue for or against psychiatry, or any other kind of medical treatment. My goal was to look to the Bible as a primary source and see what I could find on healing, miracles, and medicine. The controversy surrounding those topics is so loud – even in Christian circles – that I’ve never spent much time looking into them myself. I admit that I did cherrypick specific vignettes to support my points –this post is too long as it is – and I realize many might disagree with me. 

For those of you who’ve walked with me all the way to the end of this post, thank you for your patience! I hope God will continue working in all our lives so that He grows bigger and we grow smaller. Praise God for the wisdom found in his Word, which is more than enough to sustain us in every situation, whether physical or spiritual.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” ~ 2 Peter 1:3

7 thoughts on “Medicine, Miracles – or Both?

  1. Thank you Grace for your willingness to share and to point us toward trusting God’s promises in his Word ! Blessings to you and all the family ! Larry

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Grace
    I am astounded and humbled by the spirit and life God continues to expand in you. I am not envious; but it would be fabulous to be as articulate in my thinking and writing as GOD has blessed you.
    You are a continued answer to a prayer “GRACE TO LIVE “.
    Glory be to GOD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s God working through a prideful and very unfinished vessel if I’m able to encourage others. If he gives you words to speak, please share and don’t worry about natural aptitude. Praise the Lord who gives the grace for every occasion!


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