The year was 1956.
As a brand new medical student just a few weeks into the semester, I was intrigued when my professor announced:
“Today I have good news and bad news. The good news is that half of the material you learn in medical school will survive all scrutiny and investigation. It will be enduring. However, the other half of what we teach you will be proven incorrect. In time it will change or even be completely reversed.
Now for the bad news. We have no way of knowing which half is which!”
Sure enough, a few months later a new professor joined the faculty and introduced us to the world of RNA, DNA and other new concepts that completely changed what we thought we knew about genetics. Today we have even better scientific studies, improved controls and complex statistical analysis.
When first started practicing medicine, I felt well trained and competent. My head was packed full of knowledge, but I still needed continuing medical education. While attending a lecture series on treating heart attacks, I couldn’t believe my ears! Only a few months earlier, as a medical resident, I’d been running a clinic providing the best possible care to cardiac patients. Now new data showed that what I had worked so hard to learn was obsolete. I was so angry. The “best” medicine was already outdated and I’d only just begun my practice!
Today my advice to young physicians is, “Get used to it. Change is merely the beginning!” Even with cutting-edge research, we see this trend in all areas of medicine. Today 12.5% of the clinical trials show results that contradict current clinical practice. And just because a study is recent doesn’t necessarily make it correct. So who can we trust? Where do we find the best information?
Grappling with this subject has led me to value even more highly the information sent by the Holy Spirit through prophets. But which prophets can we trust? What about false prophets? The ancient prophets were not able to access or understand the best of our new, scientific information. And even if they were correct, who pays attention to those old guys anyway?
“Now don’t go mixing religion and science,” you say. “This religious stuff has enough hocus pocus of its own without confusing it with reliable facts. Where would we be in medical care today if we depended on religion to bring us anesthesia, antibiotics, robotic surgery, and CAT scans?”
Our attempts to understand truth through either religion or science alone can be inadequte. God wants to give us the best health information and the best spiritual information–together! And he wants us to intelligently apply that information. I know this is true, because this is the miracle He has worked in my life!
Looking back in history, the place where we see God’s concern in both our health and spiritual well-being perfectly expressed is in the life of Jesus. He was vitally interested in peoples’ eternal soul salvation, and just as invested in their current health status.
But God’s dual focus on health and salvation did not begin with Jesus. Instructions about nutrition, hygiene, physical activity and relationships began at creation and extended through the Old and New Testament periods.
Impressively, both God’s health laws and spiritual laws are still up to date. They have survived all scrutiny and investigation.
Finding and keeping God’s dual focus is a worthwhile challenge. He wants us to work at it together as a team. Is it time for you to get healthy God’s way?