We recently met up with Mr and Mrs Why for a fun double date of squash (as in the racket sport) and an unhealthy dinner at Red Lobster afterwards. They’re an engaging and inviting couple I feel blessed to have met. One conversation topic in particular stood out in my mind: Faith vs Medicine
Considering my recent struggle to figure out where my faith fit into my health, I was very interested to hear what others thought. From my nonmedical perspective, my struggle with whether or not to use radioactive iodine versus having faith in God’s ability to heal me came down to whether or not I would surrender my control to God…specifically over its impact to family planning. “But,” Mrs Why asked, “if you were done having children, would you still have this struggle with faith or would you just do the RAI? And, if you were to trust God in healing in this aspect, would you also just ask God for healing every time you had a headache, etc?”
Good questions…I admit I hadn’t thought that far ahead. It was just for my current situation. Mr Why added some convincing thoughts to the mix. He said that medicine (and science) was also a provision of God, which I agree, but where faith really comes in is when medicine does not offer a high chance of success. For example, ibuprofen will cure my headache 100% of the time…so just take it. But chemotherapy only offers about a 55% chance of curing a particular cancer…so pray for healing. And in my case, radioactive iodine doesn’t cure ANYTHING, but destroys the organ responsible for my symptoms so that doctors can have an easier time managing the new symptoms due to killing my thyroid…so, I’m also praying for healing. And trying other treatments.
Earlier this year, my BIL’s wife also offered this insight, that if my life is in danger and needs immediate attention, use what science and medicine has to offer. But if it becomes about ease and convenience and control, then it’s a better practice to exercise faith.
Layering these two thoughts together I have a better idea of when to use each and what role each plays. Faith and Medicine are not conflicting entities that are exclusive of each other. Focusing on either side is unwise and potentially harmful. It’s a tight balance to maintain.
How about you? How would you differentiate when to use medicine and/or faith?