Practically everyone had left the theater but we remained, waiting impatiently in the dark, for the name of our friend to scroll across the screen as the credits rolled on and on and on…and on. He had worked as a grip on this major film and was now a personal friend of the big-name star, receiving frequent invitations to visit his home in Malibu for a meal or to just “hang out.” We were impressed! Finally, there it was, after what seemed like hundreds of other names had gone by, and we yelled and clapped and hugged our hero.
These days I have an increased awareness of the number of people and the amount of behind-the-scenes work that it takes to produce a movie because my son is a video editor. He can easily spend hours and hours working on even a short, thirty-second commercial to make it all come together; and he’s just one of many who’ve invested similar amounts of time on the project already—writers, producers, directors, camera and lighting people, actors, and office staff to name a few—pre-production, production, post-production—no wonder the credits seems to go on forever.
As I prepared this morning to go for a follow-up mammogram, it occurred to me that my encounter with breast cancer involved a cast of characters that is probably as large as those involved in even a blockbuster movie such as The Ten Commandments, Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings. My doctors alone include internist, breast center radiologist, surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist. Add to that an unknown number of other radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists, each of whom has an office staff that includes reception, billing, nurses, technicians, etc. Then there’s the staff at the breast center and the hospital—from the nurses in admitting, surgery and recovery to the housekeepers who make sure all is done in a clean and safe environment. Throw in the researchers, producers and retailers of all of the medications, equipment and supplies and there’s a cast of probably not just hundreds, but thousands, that have come together to assist me in eliminating that tiny little malignancy that had the potential to cause my death if left untreated.
Then I started to count up all of the other physicians I depend on. Let’s see—there’s the dermatologist, the gastroenterologist, the cardiologist, the ophthalmologist, the gynecologist and the dentist; not to mention past encounters with orthopedists, podiatrists, urologists, otolaryngologists, pulmonologists, and chiropractors. It’s clear that the days of one family doctor who does it all are long gone; and the very idea of a friendly old country doctor like Doc Baker on Little House on the Prairie seems like a fairy tale.
So when—as just happened today when I scheduled my next mammogram—I am asked, “Who’s your doctor?” I have to reply, “Which one do you want?” I wonder how they’d react if I answered from my heart, “My primary care physician is God,” because that is the real truth. He is the one who made me, the one who created my inmost being; [who] knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He is truly the greatest physician of all. From beginning to end—Genesis to Revelation—scriptures record promises, prayers and praises in regard to healing:
Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again. (Genesis 20:17)
See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. (Deuteronomy 32:39)
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. (Psalm 6:2)
O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. (Psalm 30:2)
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. (Psalm 103:2-4)
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. (Malachi 4:2)
…and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. (Mark 1:34a)
“Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. (Acts 9:34)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
Interestingly, whatever God does—healing included—he cannot be defined or put into a box made up of our expectations. His way of doing things continually varies. As referenced above, Abraham and Peter prayed and people were healed—that happens now too for God’s word hasn’t changed; and according to James 15:5, a prayer offered in faith will make a sick person get well. At times, Jesus simply spoke and healing occurred instantly; but he also did such unusual things as spitting in the dirt, placing the mud on the eyes of a blind man and telling him to go wash it off—and the guy received his sight. Additionally, there are references throughout the Bible regarding preventative health care (i.e. the dietary and sanitation requirements given to the Israelites in the desert), the use of doctors (Luke was a physician), and remedies for ailments (1Timothy 5:23 tells us that Paul encouraged Timothy to, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”)
Today, while there appears to be a dramatic increase in the number of miraculous and instant healings, it doesn’t happen every time. Did I ask the LORD to remove the cancer? Oh yes! Did others pray for my healing? Again, yes! Did it occur in the way I desired? No. In my case, God chose to use his amazing cast of characters to accomplish my healing. How I thank him for the love and support of my family; for the prayers of my friends; for the wisdom, knowledge and skill of my doctors; for the compassion and help of so many of my nurses; for the effectiveness of the medications; but above all, for the hand of God himself, fulfilling his promise that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)