ON FACING MY IMPENDING HEART SURGERY
It’s going to happen four weeks from today.
But who’s counting?
It seems my heart has been broken. Literally. The chords supporting the leaflet in my heart’s mitral valve have broken in such a way as to cause blood to back up into my lung and cause Congestive Heart Failure. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that broken hearts truly can be mended surgically, if not medically in many cases, these days in ways nothing short of miraculous. And I expect to be among this world’s walking miracles in the months and, hopefully, years to come.
Which brings to mind the question of faith healing and the larger question of whether God is still in the business of miracles that heal our human bodies. The word “still” recalling stories in the Bible involving, say, Jesus as the One God used to heal people of various diseases as diagnosed among the ancients.
Three very quick points about such biblical stories of physical healing.
First, Christians like to think the word “save” as used by Jesus had to do with being saved from hell after death. Well, no. Just no.
The Greek word “sozo” used to quote Jesus instead referenced the power to heal our dis-ease in this life. So if Jesus is correctly understood, he offers us an abundant life here on earth as the good news of a new Kin-dom that comes now, otherwise known as the gospel of salvation. We can be saved, ie. healed, through him as God’s great physician.
Secondly, Jesus healed no one WITHOUT what amounts to human partnership. We play a part as partners in healing. And the initial partnership involves an act of the human will, or belief, or faith. Only a willing partner can play a part in the healing miracles of the biblical Jesus
Thirdly, Jesus initiated a Kin-dom in which others would continue his own work of salvation on earth and God would supply many great physicians to do even greater works of healing. Jesus never hinted at his being the only healer or savior but rather the leader to be followed as the Kin-dom of God would only then come on earth as it is in heaven.
So here’s how I am facing my open heart surgery of April 10th. Four weeks from today, but who’s counting? It begins with my own part in the divine partnership, and with an act of my own will, belief and faith.
Faith in divine miracles.
Unlike the biblical accounts where healings were rare, and where God’s Kin-dom on earth was just taking shape with Jesus, today God supplies Christs all over the world to heal en masse. We have great physicians in greater abundance in this life and world today than ever before. There are more healing miracles today than anyone short of the biblical Christ Jesus himself ever imagined among the ancient people. Where tens were healed in biblical accounts, there are millions healed today in our world. Thanks be to God.
The heavenly Kin-dom is now closer than ever before.
But it’s still not here yet.
My thought is there are three things wrong. Holding us back. Opposing God’s Kin-dom of heaven from arriving on earth.
First, we still place our faith in old rather than new resources for healing. Even some Christians out there are still trusting in ancient diagnoses and treatment plans as opposed to modern medicine. These and others are still refusing to go to the source of today’s modern miracles. We have great physicians and tests and medicines and vaccines and, yes, even great surgeries that are being resisted for lack of faith. God’s miracles are going to waste, especially in areas of testing that people refuse and/or postpone until it’s too late to be healed. As before, God’s healing miracles require partners playing our own part, acting on our own positive will, belief, faith.
Second, we humans still collectively place more faith in arming the militaries of this world than we do in supplying the hospitals of this world. We collectively train more soldiers than we do doctors. We produce far more resources aimed at injuring than repairing, at death than life. We have more faith in dis-ease than in healing. In my own country of the United States, a current controversy involves whether we can afford Medicare health insurance unless, God forbid, we first have to cut our military expenditures. Bottom line: we prioritize death over life even as we hypocritically claim to be pro-life.
Thirdly, we humans still cause most of our own sickness.
In another act of gross hypocrisy, we work at understanding the source (etiology) of communicable disease as if our, say, American healthcare system depended on such. Yet, we’ve long known that most Americans are sick and ultimately die NOT from diseases of contagion but rather diseases of lifestyle. We quite simply stress ourselves to death, or eat or drink or smoke or sit ourselves to death. No foreign lab or adversarial government could begin to inflict a fraction of the injuries upon us we so willingly do to ourselves. We are, at least in the USA, by far our own worst enemy.
And so I must confront this question for myself today.
Will I face my heart surgery (did I mention it’s four weeks from today?) by choosing my same old lifestyle of disease? Or by choosing my all-important aftercare lifestyle of healing in partnership with God’s latest and greatest of miracles?
God will supply, through my fellow Americans who join in paying the FICA tax on their income over their own careers, the Medicare dollars (socialized medicine) needed to pay for the expert great physicians, nurses, care team and vast supply of med-surg resources at the Christ Hospital of Cincinnati for the miracle healing of my broken heart. But my own part in this divine partnership is to then change my lifestyle to eat a heart-healthy diet, get plenty of water and walking and sleep going forward, and then participate in all further scheduled tests and other activities. Anything short of this amount of faith on my part in God’s ability to provide my miraculous healing is an act of hypocrisy on my part. It is instead a faith in dis-ease as my master, fate, and destiny.
Yet one final word.
I realize as one who provides healing for human minds as a psychotherapist after four decades of such professional experience, that even heart disease itself is greatly exacerbated by the stress of living a lifestyle based on faith in competition. Competition is what happens when we play that old zero sum game where if one wins another must lose. It’s the root cause of all sin and stress-born illness. It dissolves our partnership with the divine who commanded love of neighbor as self. And it undermines the healthiest of earthly (and perhaps heavenly) lifestyles based on the positive sum of one winning by helping another win first. The lifestyle of cooperation, not competition, where we all win together by refusing to compete against each other, is what I will act upon in the course of my surgery and aftercare. As I faithfully cooperate with my extended care team and with the God who mercifully and miraculously provides them as my healers/saviors/embodied Christs, I will face my heart surgery.
Did I mention that’s only four weeks from today?