God's Therapy of Mercy
Why do we need physicians and medicine? If God created the world and everything in it perfect, where did disease, sickness and death come from? How can disease and death be part of God's plan for the creation?
God did not fashion a creation in which disease and death took place. Our ailments are our own doing. We added them to God's creation. When man withdrew his love from God by disobeying Him, man changed the nature of God's creation.
How could sickness arise in a perfect creation? What were the germs and viruses that now cause disease doing in a perfect world? Most microorganisms are not only harmless, but helpful - indeed necessary. They recycle waste products to make them useful again. Others remove harmful chemicals from the environment. Some species of microorganisms even remove radioactive elements from drinking water.
It takes only small, subtle changes in chemistry and biology to change helpful and good organisms into deadly organisms. For example, botulism is a fatal food poisoning caused by the botulinum toxin that is produced by a microbe growing in food. Botulinum is the most powerful toxin known to modern science. However, medical researchers have discovered that very tiny amounts of botulinum toxin may be safely injected into spasming muscles to stop involuntary spasms. These small doses stop involuntary nerve impulses without interfering with the voluntary use of the muscles. This therapy promises to help people who suffer from involuntary clinching of eyelid, throat, face, and neck muscles. It could help provide treatment for misaligned eyes, stuttering and the cramps often suffered by musicians, writers and typists. Therapy appears to work for several months before it must be repeated and there seems to be no side effects. Perhaps this hints at God's original purpose for the botulism microbe.
Or take pain. Pain is unpleasant. However, when pain tells us to move our hand from the hot stovetop, it helps us prevent more serious injury. In God's foreknowledge, He knew that man would eventually bring pain and disease upon himself. So He filled the creation with chemical factories that could provide temporary relief for pain and disease. Foxglove, or digitalis, offers a treatment for heart failure. Quinine, from a South American tree, is used to treat malaria. Steroids come from a Mexican yam. A treatment for gout is made from the autumn crocus. A fungus that grows on the rye plant and caffeine from coffee beans are used to treat migraine headaches. White willow bark, which contains a form of aspirin, has been used for thousands of years as a natural treatment for pain and fever. Despite its long-standing use, physicians had no idea of how aspirin worked until a few years ago. Researchers now know that aspirin chemically turns off the cause of the average headache. It deactivates the chemical made by the blood vessels that causes them to constrict.
Another member of the same family of chemicals, called Prostaglandins, prevents blood platelets from sticking together, helping blood to flow more freely and preventing heart attacks. This is also why aspirin can cause stomach bleeding.
In South America ground hot peppers have been used for centuries to help relieve pain. Scientists have discovered the active ingredient in hot peppers that relieves skin pain. This substance blocks the pain signals that come from the nerves just under the surface of the skin. The "hot pepper" sauce for the skin not only doesn't cause pain, but it relieves pain that doesn't respond to any other treatment. It's available in creams and ointments that, tests show, relieve pain in two out of three people.
Conventional wisdom says that the medicines that are found in natural plants were discovered only by accident. Someone would discover a relationship between someone getting well and eating a certain plant. They would try the same plants on others with the same disease. If they found that there were more cures, the plant would be remembered as a folk medicine. The "hot pepper" pain reliever for the skin illustrates the problem with this theory. People who have a painful skin condition are not likely to experiment by putting hot pepper sauce on already inflamed skin. However, it is very possible that our Creator originally gave man some knowledge of the cures that He so wisely built into the creation.
Not Just Man
Nor is man the only one of God's creatures with knowledge. For years it has been known that the roots and leaves of the Aspilia shrub are used as a traditional African treatment for wounds and stomachaches. Researchers have also observed chimpanzees swallowing the leaves of the shrub. This led them to investigate more about the leaves. They learned that Aspilia leaves and roots contain a chemical that kills some infectious bacteria as well as fungi and worms. How did chimps discover the antibiotic nature of Aspilia? We need to look to our Creator. He was loving enough to provide medicinal help even to the animals for the consequences of human sin.
Pain, disease and death call our attention to our much more serious spiritual condition. If we did not have to face death in this life we would be condemned to spend eternity in an imperfect world. We can thank God that He did not condemn us to living forever in this imperfect world! In His foreknowledge, our Creator knew, regretfully, that man would fall into sin. He knew that among the effects of a world changed by sin would be pain and sickness. So in His mercy He filled the creation with temporary remedies to help humans and animals. However, the greatest expression of His love for us was in providing us with a cure for sin itself in His Son, Jesus Christ!
Copyright 1992 Bible Science Newsletter. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 260 Zimmerman, MN 55398 800-422-4253 www.creationmoments.com
Photo: A photomicrograph of Clostridium botulinum bacteria.