I have been thinking of diseases and illnesses and their relationship to God and wondered about this. In what what way is God “related” to them? Does he cause them, allow them? What is the traditional viewpoint on this?
It seems to me that if it is Gods will that we should leave this life now through disease, then we have no right to interfere with it by medicine. Can you enlighten me on this topic?
And if the Lord chose to heal your disease would you refuse him? Modern medicine and the ability to heal is a gift from God and we should be thankful to him for offering us the means and intelligence to utilize it.
Disease is a result of our fallen nature. Yet, Jesus is the Divine Physician, and provided many healings. As well, the Lord has also placed the physician over us - even Saint Luke was a physician. One of the graces given by the Holy Spirit is healing (1 Corinthians 12:1-11), so it’s OK! It is just that it is not God’s will that all be healed. As well, the Sacrament of Anointing contains healing - if it is necessary for one’s salvation. Here is a link to the catechism on the Sacrament of Anointing.
There are a whole range of causes for illness, and we should do our best to deal with those according to what ethical treatment is available, and in a way that is not resentful or destructive.
Saint Pio wrote:
“It is not a loss of patience if one asks Jesus to take away pain, when this becomes insupportable to us and beyond our strength, nor does one lose the merit of the suffering which is offered, by asking this of God.”
“Pray that God will console you when you feel the burden of the Cross, for in doing so you are not acting against the will of God, but you are placing yourself beside the Son of God who asked His Father during the Agony in the Garden to send Him some relief. But if He is not willing to give it, be ready to pronounce the same ‘fiat’ that Jesus did.”
And 100 years from now will people ask this question when talking about how they now have a cure for HIV?
I think the term “permissive will” could be applied here. God does not desire suffering and disease, but He allows it. As others have said, illness et al are results of sin and “the fall”.
We find cures for things today that 500 years ago would be consider witchcraft, 500 years from now [if we haven’t nuked ourselves or something] those then will have cures for diseases we couldn’t even imagine in our worst nightmares. Does this mean God didn’t like those poor schmucks who didn’t have a pharmacy with antibotics back 500 years ago? Does this mean God likes us more now? Does it mean that 100 years from now when we hopefully have a cure for HIV that he likes them more then us?
No. Humans are simply growing in understanding of the natural world - God gave us the intellect to do so. We must use that intellect for the glory of God in an ethical way.
God did offer similar gifts according to our capacity to understand and use them. As or capacity to understand and use God’s gifts increases, so should our appreciation of them. God desires all to be happy and to know his love. This is possible even for those who are sick or injured. A cure for a disease is a wonderful sign of God’s presence among us, but it is only a sign. It is not the presence itself. There are many other wonderful signs. Be content to know his presence and then, whether one is cured or not, one can be happy and filled with joy.
You seem to assume that medical science is not a gift from God. If medical science is a gift from God, which I believe it to be, then a statement such as “God heals with the same rate at whicfh medical science is advancing” sounds ridiculous. In my view medical science and God’s healing are not separated. Medical science is the result of God’s desire to heal.
God in His wisdom has made human beings His co-workers in creating and healing in this world. We are called to do His work. That is why we are created in His “image and likeness.”
The apparent slowness in medical advancement is only due to our own limits.
That does not prevent God from doing His work directly, when He desires to show His glory. There are many examples of healings that are completely impossible with medical science. The fact that God reserves His direct action for only a few instances emphasizes His desire for us to continue pursuing medical science so we can continue His work and be more like Him.
Of course the assumption is on my part, which is why the questions you raise do not necessarily concern me. That is the perogative of faith. God does not only provide healing in proportion to our intellect. He also provides healings which we cannot explain. We call such healings miracles. Does this make it easier for you to accept God’s presence or more difficult? God is not more elusive when his healings are enacted through the skill and intelligence of human agents, it is just that we often allow our vision of God’s presence to be blocked by these same human agents. Even when a doctor says that what he does is only through the grace and goodness of God, we don’t believe him and put it down to modesty. Poor God gets the short end of the stick no matter what happens. He works a miracle and its too extraordinary to be believed. He works through human agents and its too mundane to be believed. What exactly is it that you want from God? And this really is the crux of the question, isn’t it? The question isn’t whether healing takes place, but whether there is a God who actually participates in healing. The person of faith claims that there is a God who enters into human experience and desires humanity to be reconciled with himself . . . and if this is true, then the person of faith offers thanksgiving to God whether a physical healing takes place or not. The heart of the matter isn’t the physical healing, but the spiritual awakening which both suffering and being cured can bring about. For the person of faith, either one points to God’s presence. It’s not that the person healed is more beloved of God and the person who is not healed is less loved, but that God is present in the experience of both . . . and that gives us room to rejoice and be at peace in the grace of God.
Who is the “we” you are talking about? As I mentioned in my previous post, for the person of faith, medical science is part of “God’s direct action.” I fail to understand why something cannot be a gift from God if we understand how it works scientifically. You may be correct to say that God should not stand in for our lack of understanding, but should he be banished from our realm of knowledge? I believe God occupies both the dark (unknown) realms of human knowledge as well as the realms that have been revealed through academics and science. Knowledge is not an enemy of God.
Well, first of all you give rather short shift to the numerous people of faith who live and work in underdeveloped nations and among the poor in developed nations precisely because they believe they are called to be the hands of God at work in the world. If you wish to point to the many people who have yet to experience the gift of God’s healing presence in the underdeveloped nations, at least give some thought to those who have experienced that healing presence through the service of people of faith at work precisely because their faith compels them. If you wish to point to God’s absence, at least point to his presence as well. Secondly, the question you raise about whether God’s gift is only for those who have money and access to medical care is an excellent one and awaits your personal reply . . . and action. If the question you raise is so important to you, it cannot remain on a purely philosophical level, can it? You can’t simply blame God for not being present and then do nothing yourself, can you? If it does remain on this level, then my answer is you should remove the beam in your own eye before pointing out the mote in the eye of another or attempting to use suffering as a proof of God’s nonexistence or of God’s capriciousness. Whether you believe in God or not, you know that there are those who suffer in the world and if you can charge God with being responsible with all of the world and not just some of it, the same charge can be applied to you and everyone else. Don’t you know that you are responsible for those who suffer, too?
Next, I explained in my previous post that for the person of faith, God is present in both the healing and the suffering and this gives joy to our faith. Now, I realize this sounds trite, especially if I’m not one of those who suffer, but it is true nevertheless. For those who cannot see God in their suffering, then what is left to them except pain? For those who can see God in their suffering, not as the cause of their suffering, but as the agent whereby their suffering is joined with the suffering of God on the cross and is made a part of his redemptive effort, then hope and meaning can be present. So, when good things happen, we recognize God as present, but even when suffering continues we can still recognize God as present and providing an extra dimension of meaning to that suffering. This is a faith position, understood within the parameters of faith, and I fully understand that those without faith will not accept it, but what is that to me? Should I simply sit among the ashes and lament that I suffer while others do not? If I am not a believer, then how can I blame God? But if I am a believer, then I know that suffering has meaning and partakes of God’s own suffering on the cross.
If there is a God, then who am I to charge him with being differential, partial or inconsistent? If God chooses to be differential, partial or inconsistent, then who am I say otherwise? But I do not believe this is what God has chosen to be. I believe that God chose to dwell among his people and endure their suffering as flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. If I have felt pain, then so has God in Jesus. If I have felt frustration and abandonment, then so has God in Jesus. If I am destined to suffer the solitude which comes with death, then so did God in Jesus. And yet, Jesus redefined his suffering and death in such a way as to give all of us hope and room for joy, even in the face of uncertainty, suffering and death. That is the kind of God I worship. If this kind of explanation is too theological or religious for you, I’m sorry, but that is all I have to offer. I am a person of faith and my faith animates every facet of my life.