Thursday, June 18, 2015

Temporary Medical Intervention

Divine healing or medical intervention? God has supplied the benefits of both. In our day the confident pronouncement that “All healing is divine” accounts for phenomena such as (1) our body’s own repair mechanisms from cuts, scratches, and bruises, (2) our body’s responses to illness or infection, and (3) our body’s natural tendency to produce system equilibrium. These are examples of “secondary causation” with which our physical bodies have been created. Doctors trained in medicine are able to produce wellness in their patients by enhancing some of the responses our bodies utilize without medical intervention. 

Surgical intervention goes beyond other common medical interventions. Surgeons receive more training than other medical personnel. About a year ago I encountered a neighbor on his morning neighborhood walk. We shared the information that each of us had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a degenerative condition of spinal tissues resulting in pressure on nerves in the spinal column, the electrical communication system of the body. It results in diverse discomforts—pain, cramping, numbness and weakness. He claimed that in the sixth or seventh decade of life many people are victims of normal wear and tear on our complex and multifunctional spinal organ. He stated many body systems such as the spine were not designed to work optimally for decades. My neighbor’s condition was alleviated by epidural steroid injections. Others with this condition, roughly 70%, are able to live with and manage the condition while 15-20% get better. I was one of the unfortunate 10-15% whose symptoms, despite heroic treatment and personal endurance, were not alleviated after several years. Surgery was the only option. Thankfully, it has proved successful.

We have joked with our family chiropractor that he should rename his business “The Senescence Clinic.” Many friends have never heard this term. My naming lesson was received with humor by the doctor. Realistically, senescence is a phenomenon inherent in the condition of every human. Our impermanent body systems tend to deteriorate. For reference, check out this previous post:

Psalm 90, likely written by Moses, is a combination of truth—theological, poetic, scientific, and pragmatic: “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (NIV). It is true that life expectancy has increased roughly twenty years since my grandparents’ day due to medical advances, improvements in diet, and other factors. Some analysts judge that human life expectancy may be reaching a maximum; others disagree. Life expectancy has varied over the centuries, but the 70 to 80 figure of Moses is not substantially different in our day and will probably not change.

Skeptics and even some people of faith question that a righteous and loving Creator would permit disease, injury, disasters, and even the onset of senescence during the acknowledged average span of 70 or 80 years of human existence. Some question why a perfect and loving God does not eliminate the perils and misery of aging. Ecclesiastes 12:2-8 contains vivid imagery of the unpleasant experiences of old age and the final reality of death when “the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

Many Christians long for a perfect world of optimal health and freedom from concerns about disease and aging. The redemption from sin in humanity has been addressed by the advent of Jesus Christ. That redemption is available to all of us at present. However, our eternal redemption from the totality of perils of this life, physical and spiritual, is not in prospect until the New Creation of Revelation 21-22. Until our eternal redemption arrives, scripture gives wonderful solutions for coping with our present condition!