Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prayer and Illness and Overseas Adoption

The CEO of both Japan Air Lines and Kyocera Corporation, Kazuo Inamori, is a Bhuddist monk.  This very talented guy also is the founder of the Kyoto Prize in science and literature.  Although he is the head of two very technology dependent companies, he knows technology has a price.  He said that western technology corrodes spirituality everywhere it goes.  He is right.  Especially here in the west.

Many of us who are are believers worry that different parts of "secular" culture are corrupting our society.  Yet we barely pass a moment disconnected from computers and advanced communications.  Xavier's illness reminds me that technology really separates us from our spiritual lives is in medicine.

Let me cite a movie to make my point.  The most famous line from the 1993 thriller "Malice" is from Alec Baldwin who plays surgeon Jed Hill.  In the movie Hill says "I AM God" walking past the hospital chapel where families of patients are praying.  Hill says they are praying to him.  Hill is playing an arrogant SOB, but he's not wrong.  Those desperate people want results.  We may admit God's will is the greatest good, but when a son, wife or mom is at the point of death, we want results.  And the results of medicine are more reliable than prayer.

People tepidly pray to "guide the hand of the surgeon" but given the choice between prayer and a surgeon, we go to the doctor.

Before modern medicine, everyone knew life was short and apt to end in agony at any moment.  Before antibiotics (1930s) ANY infection could be lethal.  Before anesthesia (1845) any surgery could be worse than the disease it hoped to cure.

I am writing this as a believer and a HUGE fan of modern medicine.  I keep a spreadsheet listing 30 broken bones, 17 surgeries, and my many hospital stays, ambulance rides, concussions, and a MEDEVAC ride.  I will pray for my injured friends, but if they have an injury that can be treated with surgery, I almost always say get the surgery.

One of the many messy corners of my spiritual life is medicine.  I can barely pray for a sick neighbor.  I can pray for their family and friends, but I am not seeking healing from God.  Medicine works too well and I don't want to pray insincerely.

With Xavier in Haiti I can pray for his recovery, but I admit the first thing I wanted to know:  "Is he getting antibiotics?"  He is.  With that question answered, I started scheming about whether he could recover in America, when I could visit, and what I could do.

Prayers followed plans.  I say all this as a believer.  I pray daily.  But I pray for things out of my control.  I came to faith recovering from being blinded by shrapnel--physical helplessness made me aware I was spiritually helpless.  If I lived in a world without modern medicine, I would mostly likely be dead, but if I were alive, I would pray more fervently for the sick.

Adoption, especially overseas adoption, reminds me how little control I really have.

No comments:

Post a Comment