Faith AND Medicine

Remember a little while back we were in discussion with Mr and Mrs Why regarding faith vs medicine? I recently received this email (published with permission) from Mr Why as further response to the conversation as well as my blog posts on the matter.

I really enjoyed our discussion surrounding faith and medicine although I feel I should clarify a few things.

I don’t really think that faith and medicine should really ever be opposed to each other.  I do think, as you had mentioned, that God has blessed us with science, medicine, technology, and more importantly the wisdom to decide when to use it.  Where people often talk about faith healing, it is often in the realm of the supernatural – where every other “human” attempt has failed – including medications, surgeries, and even natural / holistic cures.  I think that it takes great faith to receive this type of healing and is a very specific calling that God places on certain individuals with the purpose to bring Glory to Him.  One could view faith as yet another possible therapy to try in addition to antibiotics, chemotherapy, and so on.  Often I would recommend prayer AND medicine, rather than prayer OR medicine.

I do believe that our knowledge and understanding of the human body and its myriad pathophysiologies are very limited at best.  With many illnesses we don’t fully understand the cause and at best can only make vain attempts at resolution.  I’ve experienced this firsthand as I have several patients that I see frequently where neither I nor the half-dozen specialists I’ve consulted can figure out how to resolve their symptoms (much less diagnose the cause).  As such, we have limits to what we can do and what we can heal.

Regarding Grave’s Disease, I think it’s super great that you were able to achieve euthyroid levels with mainly diet control.  Unfortunately this is not always the case for other hyperthyroid cases.  As a physician, I feel that it may be potentially dangerous (and somewhat incendiary) to talk of RAI treatment as “nuking” or “destroying” your thyroid, leaving doctors to manage the aftermath of “killing off” one’s thyroid.  The RAI treatment is often reserved for a “last resort” type treatment, when other therapies have failed (including PTU and dietary management).  Remaining in a continuous state of hyperthyroidism can be very serious and even life threatening.  If a patient of mine had wanted to avoid radioactive treatment, I would certainly allow it – but would probably give a certain timeline/deadline, and continuously monitor their TSH/T3/T4 levels (as it seems like your endocrinologist has done).  In some cases, it may be better – in fact, life saving – to “remove” the “offending organ” in order to restore balance to your endocrine system.

As we had also discussed that evening, it really is dependent on one’s relationship with God when trying to seek His calling.  Whichever way He leads you – to avoid treatment or to accept it – is always a step of faith because one never knows what the future holds.  I don’t think it is necessarily against God’s calling to take a harsh medical treatment, nor do I necessarily believe that God only works through “natural” or “holistic” means.  I think God works the way He works – and we are just supposed to be faithful and obey.

In any case – I really enjoyed our discussion that day and I’m glad you were able to express it in your blog!  I do admire your faith and especially your discipline to watch your diet.  I’m glad that God has blessed you with health and hope that we can continue to have these discussions on faith even while you’re away!

I really appreciated his email and the thoughts he had to share. Do you agree/disagree or have other thoughts to add? I will post my response in a separate post.

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One response

  1. “I think God works the way He works – and we are just supposed to be faithful and obey.”

    I don’t think it could be worded any better. I whole heartedly believe in Medicine. I’m not afraid to admit that I will trust what is out there medicinally and if it works, I believe its by the hand of God. If it doesn’t work, I believe that is also God’s will. Just because I trust earthly medicine, doesn’t mean that God isn’t a part of my medical journey. =)

    I really enjoyed reading his email. He stated very eloquently both sides.

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