The wisdom of faith
As a health psychologist, I would see a lot of physically sick persons, with diagnoses ranging from diabetes to HIV and cancers. Having a terminal illness is not the easiest thing to cope with. For many, they hold on to every element of hope they can find which helps them to fight and be resilient. For others, they succumb easily to the weight of the diagnosis and before long, the emotional and psychological despair which they facilitate in their hearts and minds leads to their ultimate demise, even before the time which may have been dictated by their prognosis. Being a Christian before a psychologist, I would first and foremost encourage my patients to exercise their faith. To rely on the little faith they may have amidst the grim evidence which they may have been presented with. I believe that faith can move mountains and the good thing is, we only require as little as a mustard seed to be effective. But faith without works is dead!!!!
Prayer and Faith vs Doctors and Medicine
I read a story recently about “extremely religiousâ parents who allowed their 11-year-old daughter to die of diabetes related complications by seeking healing through prayer only and turning away from the advice of the medical practitioners. It was an unfortunate situation which ended in obvious tragedy for the family, who were left with intense grief and remorse. As a result of this unfortunate ordeal, I must ask the question: should Christians seek medical treatment or just pray or do both?
There are some Christians who believe that as Christians, we should not visit doctors, but rely solely upon prayer for healing. They claim (falsely) that all healings in the Bible were strictly the result of prayer alone. It is true that the gospels contain many examples of Jesus (and even the apostles) healing the sick and lame. However, the healings of Jesus were given as a sign of the legitimacy of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and the Old Testament said that the Messiah would heal the blind and the deaf.
It must be stated and noted that despite claims to the contrary, there were physicians in the time of the New Testament. In fact, one of the writers of the gospels, Luke, was a physician. If we really examined the scriptures we would realize that Jesus knew that doctors could heal people, since He said in his words, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick,â giving credibility to medicine as a healing art. Jesus also quoted from proverbs, “Physician, heal yourself,â indicating that physicians of the time were healing people. The Greek word for “physicianâ is derived from the root verb iaomai, which means “to cureâ or “heal,â indicating that a physicianâs job in the first century was to heal people. God has called some people to be doctors to minister healing to others.
It is my belief that Christians should not rely solely upon prayer to treat diseases that are reliably treated through modern medicine. We ought to exercise wisdom and know that the Lord uses others to bless us. This doesnât mean that we donât pray for the sick. When Christian parents let a child die from a disorder that is readily treatable by modern medicine, it says to the world that we are unwise and uncaring. However, since God calls certain individuals to serve others through medicine, arenât those people really an answer to our prayers? Think about itâ¦ So, when your child gets sick, use your faith to seek medical professionals whom God has provided for their healing. And, yes, pray for your child and also for the doctors that God would provide them wisdom and discernment in your childâs treatment.
Dr Jozelle Miller
Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.