Healing Through Injury – How is That Possible?
Not infrequently, a grateful patient will say to me, “Thank you, doctor, for saving my life!” Not wanting to accept glory for the work of God, I almost always respond the same way – “No, let’s give God the credit for that! But I’m glad to have had a part in the way he has rescued you!” I know where my patients are coming from. They were facing a medical problem that was frightening, full of doubt and fear, just as I would be. Now on the other side of their procedure, they are so relieved and grateful to be recovering. They can see hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. They are healing.
But from a medical standpoint, how did they come to be healing? Through injury! Surgery is an injury. If you’ve ever gone “under the knife,” you know that it hurts. A surgeon makes an incision, violating a barrier that every system in the body is designed to protect. Even “minimally invasive” surgeries represent an injury. Layers are divided, body cavities are entered, diseased tissues are removed, structures are reconstructed. Non-surgical cancer therapies also involve injury. Traditional chemotherapy destroys the ability of cells to divide and reproduce, and all growing tissues are affected, whether it’s new blood cells in the bone marrow, the lining of your gut, or hair follicles. That’s where the common side effects come from – the hair loss, nausea, and low blood counts with associated risk of infection and anemia. They are evidence of an injury – one that is planned, carefully dosed, and designed to bring healing.
How is it, then, that we fail to see God’s hand in the injuries he brings our way? As we go through seasons of trial or suffering, can we see that these injuries are planned, carefully dosed, and designed to bring us into a deeper relationship with Him? So many in today’s culture feel that human suffering is evidence that God does not exist, or if he does he is deficient in power and love. Even many Christians feel that God would never allow an obedient believer to experience suffering, and they anxiously try to muster just enough faith and goodness to earn a pass on disease and hardship.
The Bible has many comforting truths for those who are suffering. One is that the ultimate cause of human suffering is human sin. Why is this comforting? Because it puts the spotlight on the love of God. John 3:16-17 says it all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus died so that we would not perish for eternity but have eternal life. This fact is the core of Christian belief, and it is the only true comfort for those who are suffering. Jesus became flesh and dwelled among us. He experienced suffering – rejection, persecution, betrayal, disappointment, intense pain, physical deprivation, torture, humiliation, and injustice. He bore all of this suffering in order to bring the hope of eternal healing, both physical and spiritual.
These are difficult times in America. Our hearts are hurting from the divisions and misunderstandings we face. Covid 19 has driven us into deep isolation and a shroud of fear. Add onto that the injury of physical illness, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or any other suffering, and life can feel bleak. But if you’re willing to reach out in your grief and see the loving hand of God and the healing He has provided, your injury can turn out to be an unexpected blessing.