Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Faith in Medication

Am I showing a lack of faith if I take medication?

I don’t think that there is anything inherently “anti-faith” about taking medication. Wine, oil, balm, figs, leaves, salt, bandages, salve, and similar things are all utilized in Scripture to cure various ailments, and such use is laudable and encouraged:

  • 2 Kings 20:7 And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover."
  • Isa 1:6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil.
  • Jer 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?
  • Jer 51:8 Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.
  • Ezek 16:4 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your navel string was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor swathed with bands.
  • Ezek 47:12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."
  • Lk 10:33-34 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
  • 1 Tim 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
  • Rev 3:18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

The fact is, God can use the things of this world and the advances that man has made in science and medicine to heal us. It does not imply a lack of faith to take medicine anymore than it does to go to a doctor or a dentist. We also have the responsibility, as good stewards, to take care of our bodies and provide for their vitality. Taking medicine and going to the doctor is one way that we do that.

The important thing is to keep the Lord involved as well. We don't want to be like King Asa and only consult physicians (cf. 2 Chron 16:12). We want to also seek the Lord. So, pray to Him daily for healing. Acknowledge the "Great Physician" working through the human physician. The amazing accomplishments that mankind has been able to achieve in science and medicine often lull us into thinking that we can do just fine without God. We must never forget that He is at work in all that is good, and we depend on Him for everything.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

ps: "japhy" alerted me to Sirach 38, and it perfectly addresses this topic:
1 Honor the physician with the honor due him, according to your need of him, for the Lord created him; 2 for healing comes from the Most High, and he will receive a gift from the king. 3 The skill of the physician lifts up his head, and in the presence of great men he is admired. 4 The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them. 5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that his power might be known? 6 And he gave skill to men that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. 7 By them he heals and takes away pain; 8 the pharmacist makes of them a compound. His works will never be finished; and from him health is upon the face of the earth. 9 My son, when you are sick do not be negligent, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 10 Give up your faults and direct your hands aright, and cleanse your heart from all sin. 11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of fine flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford. 12 And give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; let him not leave you, for there is need of him. 13 There is a time when success lies in the hands of physicians, 14 for they too will pray to the Lord that he should grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life. 15 He who sins before his Maker, may he fall into the care of a physician.
Thanks japhy!

3 comments:

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Don't forget Sirach 38!

Fr. Matthew Hardesty said...

The USCCB's recent document against Reiki (thank God!) speaks a little bit about God's healing vis-a-vis medicine when it treats (excuse the pun) the medical merits of Reiki (or lack thereof)... ok... enough parenthetical comments...

phatcatholic said...

japhy ... you exposed my ignorance of the deuterocanonicals, but I thank you for it! I wish I would have known about that chapter. It's perfect!! It's a little too late for my article in the church bulletin, but at least I can still edit this blog post.

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