by Gabriel Asumeng, MD, MDiv.
In an unprecedented time as brought on by the current COVID-19 pandemic, coupled by living in a fast-paced world where thrills go for top dollar and human values at a low, setting priorities rightly become paramount. I am involved in academic excellence seminars. And I start my presentations by quoting III John 2 which reads: My dear friend, I pray that in all things you may be in good health and prosper, even as your soul prospers. The intersection between faith, health, and financial well-being is here acknowledged by the Apostle John, but has always been enshrined in the core message of the bible. Interestingly, and appropriately, Christianity cannot make any exclusive claim to the emphasis on good health and financial wellness. The Holy Quran 7:31 says “Eat and drink healthy and be not prodigal.” Similar principles are enshrined in African traditional religions.
One can posit that the pursuit of optimal health is both a fundamental human right and need. If the story of creation is true, and I believe it is, then one wonders why the human society despite all the advances in technology and our varied religious and spiritual exercises, is so plagued with disease and suffering. We find the answer in the story about the origin of sin. And the solution to all human suffering is found in the expectation of a new world, one in which disease, poverty, pain, death, and all forms of suffering are non-existent.
Understandably, many pursue good health and eternal life with the same dedication, and often from the same source: religion. As Kelvin Onongha aptly indicates, the challenge with healthcare in Africa is the African’s conviction about “mystical causation. It is generally believed that in Africa nothing happens to a person without a cause – usually a spiritual one.” This mindset towards the origins of diseases and healthcare contributed to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDs in Africa, where the disease prevalence “accounts for over 60%” of the total world cases, although Africa had just about 16% of the world’s population.
Having been trained both as a pastor and a medical doctor, I find it encouraging to know that faith and the germ theory of disease, espoused by modern Western medicine, are not at odds with each other but rather remain complementary to one another.
Everyday, I see God, the Divine Healer, at work in the lives of healthcare providers and patients everyday. He brings about healing miracles everyday through the application of science and faith. As a physician, I pray for my patients daily. And, when time and circumstances allow, I pray with them. I partner with religious leaders to incorporate the patient’s faith in the healing process.
As I begin sharing health messages and lessons on this platform, I come with the understanding that God, the Ultimate Healer, has bestowed knowledge on healthcare professionals to be His Hand, Feet, and Mind in bringing healing to us humans. So much so that when my child is sick, I take the child to the pediatrician while still praying to God for His help. May God grant us the wisdom to make the right decisions about our health, now and forever. Let me know what you think about how finite beings like us humans can collaborate with the divine for a mutually beneficial outcome. Keep the pen rolling.
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