Illness: the final frontier. These are the medical trials of the body of science. Its unceasing mission: to explore uncured illnesses, to seek out new remedies and new understanding, to boldly cure where no cure has gone before.
I see the way the Bible illnesses are often dismissed as pre-knowledge. Skin complaints, unclean spirits, lifestyle consequences. All those labels science had yet to unpick and cure. If only they knew then what we know now – would there have been so many miracles?
On Saturday night I sat and cradled a five-year old child. The midnight hour(s). A child racked by coughing. A cough so severe my heart hurt just to hear his body heave with each spasm. I prayed. I prayed for that racking to be removed from his body. I looked into his small eyes and I prayed as hard as I could. And this five-year old just hacked hard again.
“He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.” Mark 5:1-20
That well-known miracle (for the man) and death (for the swine): “Legion”. We are in Gentile country. Pigs numbering 2000. The action is in and around the tombs built into the cliffs and hillside.
We have seen similar tombs in Turkey. Impossible constructions in places narely a mountain goat might reach. All that energy and ingenuity to entomb one’s deceased. Ingenuity we have set aside for something easier nowadays: flat fenced areas with neat lawns and easy access to those who wish to enter. Out of sight for those who don’t.
We pick and choose our ingenuities.
We have separated the body and mind, the intellect and soul. One is for faith the other for science. Faith in science. Faith in God. Ne’er shall the two meet. Except by “faith”. That Great Connector (we so often see as the Great Divide). Faith in beliefs that fence in (and out) our living. Faith that decides what we will and will not allow into the structures we call daily life. That we think of as our “identity”.
On Saturday night as I cradled our wee grandson in the dark, praying for a miracle, all I got was Facebook and Vick. I use Vick when congested – under my nose or on my chest. But this Facebook post said (that when a hacking cough would not allow sleep) to rub Vick on the “soles on one’s feet”(??) – wear a pair of socks(??) – that a good night’s sleep would follow(??)
Is that bad science – or good faith in bad science – or just bad faith?
I would love to write how God healed our grandson … how “it was a miracle” this Saturday night … But all I got was Facebook and Vick. And that is not a miracle.
A miracle is when I hold up our grandson to God and our grandson immediately stops coughing, immediately falls into a deep and peaceful sleep, and awakes the next morning refreshed and cough-free.
And … give or take five minutes … some rubbing of Vick into his feet … a tucking-up in bed … a goodnight kiss … leaving him his teddy … half-an-our listening from our bedroom … his ever quieter going-to-sleep noises … That is exactly what happened. He slept-in and was the last to wake on Sunday morning.
And I wonder …
Do we need our miracles to be sanitised, isolated, fenced off (and fenced in)? Do we need them to be devoid of “science” – that miracles are faith in God, never faith in science? Because only where science runs out do miracles live. That – just like we split the atom – so we split this as well?
God Soft Hands Jesus drew me back to the verses in Mark … to my memories of tombs in Turkish cliff-faces … people living and working there … life and death co-existing … physical and spiritual in the same place … Of messy living as “real life” always is: a cocktail of opposing priorities we make the best out of meeting where “our living” is.
I think God Soft Hands Jesus meets us where we are. In the “messy places” – the living that makes “separating” things out so impossible most of the time. I think He met me on Saturday night as I asked for a miracle in my own messy place.
Because that is exactly what happened.