Is It Faithless to Go to Treatment – Or the Doctor?
Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” Isaiah 38:21
Within Christianity, there are widely varying views on chemical dependency treatment and modern medicine. Some Christians feel that if you are addicted, all you need is Jesus. If you are sick, just pray. As a Christian, recovering addict, and physician, I’ve questioned this myself. Am I supposed to go to treatment or only church? What about a physical sickness? Should I ask God for healing? Am I faithless in seeking medical care?
It was in this context that I read today’s passage, about the prophet Isaiah applying his medical knowledge to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah got sick, prayed for healing, and God told him he would be healed. Then, Isaiah applied his cake of fig leaves to the life-threatening boil. I believe both Hezekiah and Isaiah were in God’s will when they used what they knew about medicine to facilitate the healing that God had already promised.
Perhaps it is because of Jesus’ fantastic miracles, that we expect healing to always be instant and extraordinary. Miracles though, by definition are rare events and though we may ask for one, this is not how God often works.
I went to God with my addiction, wanting an instant miracle. He told me to confess and repent. I eventually experienced the miracle of transformation, but it was not until after I obeyed. In my life, God worked through treatment, just as he worked through Isaiah and his fig leaves.
We often fail to see God at work because we often have preconceived ideas of how he should work. When faced with a struggle or an illness, we can and should go to God asking for help, but we must also ask what we should do. Then we must do it. This may mean going to treatment or going to the doctor.
To refuse assistance from those who know how to help is not Godly, it’s just foolish. God made us in his image, with some intelligence, which we can and should use to help each other. It’s not faithless to allow others to help us pursue God’s will for our lives.