Last week, I began answering a reader’s question on the role of religion in health by documenting many university and medical journal studies that showed positive links between faith and healing. I concluded by saying that I can’t answer why faith and prayer heal some and not others, but we do know they heal many.
And we also must keep in mind that faith and prayer don’t replace the medical community; they complement it. They work in conjunction with one another. God heals through modern medicine and prayer, and we should seek both when we need it. To avoid either is to ignore one of the greatest resources that God has given us to empower and heal us.
In fact, the American Cancer Society acknowledges the potential power of faith and prayer but offers a stern warning for those who would exclude the medical community from their health and healing.
I think we need to heed the caution: “One review published in 1998 looked at 172 cases of deaths among children treated by faith healing instead of conventional methods. These researchers estimated that if conventional treatment had been given, the survival rate for most of these children would have been more than 90 percent, with the remainder of the children also having a good chance of survival. A more recent study found that more than 200 children had died of treatable illnesses in the United States over the past 30 years because their parents relied on spiritual healing rather than conventional medical treatment.”
Again, the key is utilizing both modern medicine and faith. And sometimes, they both are bottled up nicely in one agency, group or person, as it was in a nurse who played a pivotal role in my 90-year-old mother’s healing from a life-threatening disease when she was only 8 years old and torn away from her parents and siblings.
My mother spent two very long years in Oklahoma City Children’s Hospital, 120 miles from her home. In her new autobiography, “Acts of Kindness” (available only through my official website, ChuckNorris.com), she explains the power of that healing agent this way:
What I had was scrofula, which is essentially tuberculosis of the bones and lymphatic glands, especially common in children. Even more specifically, scrofula is a tuberculosis infection of the skin and especially the neck. In my case, it led to huge ulcerations there.
I was skin and bones and could barely walk when I left for the hospital. I had rheumatic fever and was nearer to death than ever. I remember Mama and Papa hugging me so tightly when I left. We all cried.
My mother later shared that it tore my parents’ hearts out to let me go, but they had no other alternative, especially if I were to have any chance of survival.
[God] knew this young country girl needed her Mama then, so He delivered me the next best thing: A middle-aged nurse’s aide was the salve in my soul’s heartache. She became my surrogate mother.
She proved to me what I believed even at a young age: that God is impartial. He loves everyone and we should, too. And she loved me like I was her own.
For two years, she loved me unconditionally in ways that made me feel that everything was going to be OK, even though everyone doubted I was going to live. She believed and prayed for my healing, and she was committed to be there for me. She even replaced a wooden chair in my hospital room with her rocker. At night, I would cuddle up in her lap, just as I did with Mama back home. She was so gentle and so sweet all the time.
We would talk about Jesus, how much He loved me and how I was going to be well. As she tenderly rocked me, she would sing spirituals with the most beautiful angelic voice I’d ever heard, until I drifted off to sleep.
I’ll let you read the rest of my mother’s story in her book, but let it suffice to say that she lived, because she’s now 90 years old! She’s been healed many times like that through her life.
I’ll say it again: It’s great to see today a newly founded openness and resurgence of the marriage of spiritual and medical resources, a tradition that goes back far before my mother’s childhood to the very foundations of history and religion.
For example, the Scriptures say, “(Faith) will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” They also say that “the body is a temple” and that “physical training is of some value.” The Apostle Paul and “his dear friend and physician” Luke teamed up to help people, which I believe demonstrated God’s endorsement of faith and medical healing agents. Even Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year, said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
It’s no coincidence that 800 years before Jesus was born, the Old Testament explained about Him and His mission, and He repeated that message at the beginning of His ministry: “God has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve.”
Your well-being is just one more reason to celebrate the reason for the season this Christmas.