DISEASES, PRAYERS AND MEDICINES – The question of suffering, sorrow and disease is as old as the world. Even the ancient Assyrians wondered why man suffers and why people suffer, for example, from an epidemic, which until the Middle Ages killed entire nations. The answer of both the Assyrians and the rest of the ancients was one and the same: both man and nations suffer for sin: God’s punishment is the answer to sin.
Source: Prof. Dr. Vladeta Jerotic, “Only deeds of love remain”
WHOSE WILL DO WE SUFFER?
The question of suffering, sorrow and disease is as old as the world. Even the ancient Assyrians wondered why man suffers and why people suffer, for example, from an epidemic, which until the Middle Ages killed entire nations. The answer of both the Assyrians and the rest of the ancients was one and the same: both man and nations suffer for sin: God’s punishment is the answer to sin.
Since the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, although the interpretations of human suffering have remained essentially the same – sickness and death are the punishment for sin, and although the Greek philosophical soul has found both necessity and chance as possible causes of most human suffering, the good news of forgiveness and love has radically changed our notions of the “angry God who punishes”, of the jealous Yahweh, who demands obedience from his people, changing the notion of the sufferings of man and people.
By fulfilling and supplementing the Old Testament, without denying or revoking it, the Lord Jesus Christ through the New Testament gave man Himself and His Love, the Love of God that did not reach man and only shone from the strict, legally just and only sometimes merciful Yahweh. At the same time, Jesus Christ reminded us, taught us, and enabled us to choose Him in the future, until the end of the world and of times; and to choose Him with our free will.
And this means that we no longer call on God only when we are in difficulty, when we are sick or scared, we do not turn to God to appease His wrath with one of our victims (because then the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud would be right that in God most often we see an angry father or a violent dictator whom we must please with obedience, not true obedience) we do not bargain with God, nor do we turn to Him as a deity without much hope that He will hear us at all .
The approach of man to Christ, the bearing of His Cross, really fulfills the purpose of our and His existence only when man feels that His burden is light, and abiding with Him is joy. This is possible only when our decision to walk with Christ “to the end of the world” is a free decision of a free man.
We all know well enough, both from our own experience and from the experience of the people to whom we belong, that man is never a sufficiently free being, and for this reason his decisions cannot always be sufficiently free. This fact is partly a consequence of predestination, such as the birth of a person from certain parents, the birth with a certain structure and temperament, in a certain country. And it is partly a consequence of man’s personal negligence to use God’s gift of freedom in the way that is best for him, his family, and his people. That is why there are so few Christians in the world who abide permanently and fully in the “mystical body of Christ,” and not only in the Church as an institution.
Given all that has been said so far about sin, punishment, love and freedom, we will ask ourselves once again: by whose will do we suffer? Doesn’t this question tremble on our lips (because it is also in the heart) almost every day when we see, hear and feel how we suffer both as a nation and as individuals!
To the question posed, the answer that we suffer according to God’s will seems to me the least probable. How could God want to punish, to frighten people, to make us slavishly submissive, when – not only because we have read Peter’s message, but also because we know from our own experience – God suffers because he does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to reach to repentance! Is it not true that man suffers mainly of his own free will, because of his conscious or unconscious decision, which in fact punishes himself for his conscious and unconscious, recognized or unrecognized, but in any case unrepentant sins! The Russian philosopher Viktor Nesmelov (1863-1920) rightly notes: “Man has objectified and exteriorized God. When the Bible speaks of God’s wrath and vengeance, it is placed at the level of human judgment, it speaks of what a man would deserve if he were a judge. Man is the one who cannot forgive himself.
When it comes to man as an individual, as an individual, then modern psychosomatic medicine convincingly informs us that the largest number of diseases from which a person suffers have a mental or mental origin. Our unrecognized or recognized but unresolved (Christian would say unrepentant) internal conflicts, sometimes soon, but more often after a long period of time, lead us to a physical illness, most often chronic, from which we suffer for years. The largest number of road accidents, which are among the three most common causes of death in the world, one provokes oneself. This also applies to many other catastrophes (fires, severe mine accidents, floods, perhaps even earthquakes). ()
ABOUT DISEASES, PRAYERS AND MEDICINES
Man – both as a spiritual and as a bodily being – is not a healthy being.
With the fall of man, all nature fell, and from the “kingdom of nature, in the words of the great medieval physician and philosopher Paracelsus, come diseases, as from the kingdom of the spirit comes healing.”
Although people like to say of a man that he is “healthy as a dogwood” or “strong as a bull,” of a girl as “red as a rose” or “red as an apple,” both the dogwood and the bull are both the rose and the apple can get sick and then, like man, they may or may not experience their disease. Finally, death is an inevitability for all living things, a tragic plate for sin (Romans 6:23).
Modern medicine teaches that the farther a person is from nature (and from natural life), and the believer would say – and from God, because nature is created by God, the sicker he is, because he is much more little resistant to the growing number of dangerous and dangerous causes of various diseases. Today, it is rare to find a relatively healthy person born in a big city where he has spent his entire life. Diseases are increasingly threatening even the youngest children in cities, women are having a harder time giving birth, the body’s resistance to even trivial infections is dwindling.
Psychosomatic medicine, which studies the influence of mental life on bodily functions (and vice versa), for many materialistic naturalists surprisingly confirms the assumptions and beliefs of ancient medicine (Chinese, ancient Greek, Indian and Tibetan), which focuses mainly on the spirit and much less on the body, and so reminds modern man that before the expression “healthy spirit in a healthy body” there was an older, long and accurate drink, which today is unexpectedly confirmed and which reads: when the spirit is healthy , the body is healthy too!
Let us not, however, fall as Christians into the temptation to lightly declare the sick to be sinners and those with a strong religious spirit to be healthy, because the experience of daily life constantly refutes us.
It is better to accept both the Christian and the experienced truth that every person – both believer and non-believer – is subject to disease. Let God and only a very experienced clergyman judge whether the grief over the disease is from God and then it produces constant repentance for salvation, or the disease has befallen man because of his sins, because of the weak spirit and, accordingly, faith, and then the grief because of such sickness, again according to the apostle Paul, is a worldly tribulation that brings death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
As the lives of the saints show us, there have been those who have reached old age in good health, without any serious illness, but also those who have been ill or even seriously ill all their lives, and so once again wisely warn us to we do not judge anyone, especially the sick person. We have the difficult task when we are sick to make sense of our illness. We know from experience that all our suffering, whether caused by physical or mental illness, or has a mental cause, diminishes or becomes easier to bear when we find the cause or see in it a “cure for the soul,” a call to redress. of character and progress on the path of “Christ’s perfection.” There is no doubt that a person with firm faith endures all diseases and pains more patiently and humbly than a person without faith, to whom it remains to react to the disease with anger and resistance or with resignation and despair.
At the beginning of this article, we quoted the words of Paracelsus, who believed that if diseases come from the “kingdom of nature,” healing comes from the “kingdom of the spirit.” Today, thanks to advances in medicine and psychology, we know that most of our illnesses are really our disease because we cause them ourselves. Psychosomatic medicine has already been able to prove that prolonged states of sadness, fear or hatred cause certain diseases: stomach or duodenal ulcer, chronic inflammation of the colon (colitis), high blood pressure and heart attack, asthma, even cancer. It turns out that nature is much less ruthless to us than we are ruthless to ourselves. Hence, theistically oriented psychologists in the famous commandment of God “love your neighbor as yourself” emphasize the second part of this commandment.
If we ask ourselves for effective treatment of our diseases, then materialistically oriented doctors will have to recognize the “kingdom of the spirit” as the most successful in the treatment of all, even the most severe. Because, if the mental (psychic) factors today are proven to be the root cause of almost all diseases, how can we not seek and expect from our spirit (the Holy Spirit) the most effective help in healing?
Believing Christians have always known the benefits of prayer and fasting. Sincere, deep, and prolonged prayer, always combined with works, has so many times since the time of the Lord Jesus Christ proved its miraculousness that only those people who have never practiced prayer (and fasting) can deny or to doubt the reality of its action. The sick Christian must pray to God for his healing, as well as rely on the prayers of his confessor (clergyman). It depends on God’s will, not our “merit,” whether our prayers will be heard by God and when.
However, it is necessary to mention that just as God has revealed to us the depth and beauty of prayer, so through the physicians (remember the holy physicians – healers Cosmas and Damian, Cyrus and John, St. Panteleimon) and the medicines he has given us abundantly. the kingdom of nature ”, has given us another aid, which in combination with prayer or fasting facilitates and accelerates any healing.
It is not good from a Christian point of view, but it can also be very harmful for the treatment of the patient and his illness, when a believer, due to his ignoble nature and fanaticism of any kind, rejects the intervention of doctors and prescribed medicines, relying only on prayers in prayer books.
Without denying the possibility of a miraculous effect of prayer on the course of treatment and even the complete cure of the most serious diseases (cancer and some mental illnesses), however, the relatively small number of healed only through prayer today – because in comparison with the strong faith in the time of the Holy Fathers, as well as in later centuries, this faith has undoubtedly weakened both in sick people and in those who pray for them – it shows us that it is not wise to reject that part of the natural healing that is also given to us by God. This warning of mine (as a physician) applies especially to the inappropriate treatment of mentally ill priests in monasteries and outside monasteries, as well as the treatment of mentally ill lay believers, in cases where any psychiatric treatment with medication is stubbornly rejected. In countless situations, for many years, these drugs have been used in psychiatric practice in all countries of the world and have been shown to be successful in stopping the development, even in curing many types of mental illness, as old as and the man. Many of the troubles with such patients – who are sometimes so violent that they pose a real danger to their surroundings, and whose illness has not improved despite the long prayers of good and experienced clergy – could be avoided if, in parallel with prayers and fasting regularly. medicines were also given.
Finally, let us conclude: sickness, prayer, and medicine constitute a unity that makes man what he became after the fall, at the very beginning of time. Since often even a good Christian is not able to judge whether his illness comes from God, from himself and his sins, or from demons, it is good to recall the words of Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich: “Through every illness and torment the heavenly Physician heals human souls… Illness is an important factor in changing human destiny. Contrary to the vulgar view that disease is an absolute evil, the Church knows from experience that the disease of the body is a medicine for the soul. Diseases are truly our great teachers, because through them we not only get to know ourselves and our sins better, which are also the most common causes of our illnesses, but through the illnesses and sufferings caused by them, we purify ourselves, ennoble, become truly humble and merciful to the sufferings of others. I am convinced that without diseases people would be much more militant and aggressive towards each other.
Diseases are cured with the help of prayer, doctors and medicines. There is no real need or benefit to artificially divide this unity. It is true that every Christian, when he falls ill, especially of a more serious illness, wants to be his doctor, someone who is both a believer and a good specialist. Sometimes God’s grace gives such an opportunity to the sick Christian. It is much more common when he is unable to choose a doctor to treat him, sometimes for many years. But this is not a reason to reject treatment, much less to add prayer to medical care.