I had a cardiac incident a couple of days ago that led to the ER.
Linda and I were there all of seven hours and much of the time we looked with interest at the people that came and went with (no doubt) a host of differing ailments and underlying health problems.
We watched not only the troubled people but we watched the people that attended to them and we were [truly!] very happy at their way and their purpose. Then it was my turn with the specialists, nurses and doctors, EKGs, blood work, Xrays and the like and we were reminded that while God cares ultimately about our alienation from Him as our God (the Sin issue) He cares about our physical well-being. Bless me, He made us humans. That is, He has eternally purposed that humans, as humans, are to love and be loved, to care for and be cared for by one another and that part of that divine love is expressed in the gifts and the brilliance He has poured out on and invested in humans.
I looked at the monitors, listened to the clicks, watched the needles, heard the whirring, smiled at the stethoscopes, etc., etc., and noted the expert ease with which these people did their business. Who came up with these marvelous computers, machines, medicines and so forth, and where did the desire to help the sick come from?
I’m a Christian (however flawed) and I’ve been fed and shaped by the Judeo—Christian Scriptures and interpret life (and experience it) in light of them. So I‘m persuaded beyond debate that all the gifts and honorable drives that humans possess and experience are from God. I know that generates questions and that the “how” of it is so complex that to follow all the threads to an exhaustive and completely satisfying conclusion is beyond us. But everything in life is like that.
Read leisurely Exodus 35:30-35 and context and then back to chapters 25–32 about Tabernacle building and note who enabled them do all that was asked of them. Acts 17:24-29 needs to be read and reflected on and when that is done we need to look around at all the non-Christian people that God is using to supply our human needs. There’s no end to the marvels of human interdependence that is GOD at work!
Religious people can and often do become so “spiritual” that they don’t recognize that human well-being finds its source on the same God that forgives their sins. We rightly claim that we are doing the will of God (when indeed we are) but He is doing His will also through all those who are instruments of His interest in our-well-being. Read and take careful note of Acts 14:17 of what it is God gives (see “and everything else” in Acts 17:25). That text doesn’t go into the complexities of the work and generosity of a God we’ve rejected but a moment’s thought makes it clear that the crops and orchards don’t jump from the fields or off the trees, make their way to our tables all milled or chopped or whatever. Aside from the soil and seed, sunshine and rain, there are farmers, millers, transporters, retailers, jobs to gain money to buy, health and ability and education to do many of these jobs, roads to transport, engineers that make road and vehicles with drivers. There’s no end. ALL this is the work of God, carried out in a human family that is often at war with Him, within a human family where the people with the power are often working against Him. (Another discussion for another time—God enabling).
But is God really interested in our physical well-being? One of the most neglected texts in the Gospels (neglected by scholars within my reach) is Matthew 8:16-17. Look what text and context Matthew links physical healing with. (Another discussion for another time—God enabling.)
The miracles of Jesus Christ are saturated with theological meaning (Another discussion…) and part of it all is promissory and prophetic. By the eternal purpose of God there is a day coming when disease and death will be totally and utterly and everlastingly obliterated and all who are embraced in His saving work in His Holy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will know only ceaseless joy, righteousness, unbroken peace and right now, unknown adventure in a life brimful of life.
(Holy One, thank you for gifting the human family with the capacity for invention and vision, with gifts to do good, obliterating diseases and promoting well-being in all its forms. We regret that your gifts are so often used for evil purposes that hinder your loving purpose but we’re fully persuaded that you do even now work despite these and that you will one day completely bring an end to impenitent and exultant cruelty and corruption. Help those of us that are privileged to know you, so that we will come to know you better and will honor you without reservation for the work you do through those who have not yet embraced Jesus as Lord. We thank you for not only gifting them with brilliance but we’re very happy that you have blessed so many with good hearts and sincere devotion to the well-being of your children regardless of who they are. We pray even more for them. And bless us believers that we will not be put off by those who so speak about you as if you exist only to give us more and more and more of what we already have—keep us from being so put off that we refuse to acknowledge your genuine interest in human well-being and the wonderful work of bringing it to millions. Help us without patronizing anyone to see everyone as your servant who engages in your work (though they know it not). This prayer in Jesus Christ.)