Jesus the Healer – The Pharmacist
Welcome to this Quiet Day for those in Health Care Chaplaincy.
During our time together there will be three short addresses on the healing ministry of Jesus which mirror the three major therapies – medicine, talking and touch – of modern medical practice.
Each session will begin with a reading from the Bible,
some words to reflect upon
and some tasks to complete between the reflections.
Our time together will draw to a close with a short service of prayer asking for healing for those in need and for ourselves
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. (John 9v1-7)
Do you have a medicine free home? Ours definitely isn’t! As someone whose years now number as many as the Beatles sang about I find I have an intimate relationship with several blister-packs of drugs a day!
The careful use of drugs means I can continue to serve God and God’s people unhindered and for which I am thankful. I suppose even drug-free homes have ‘medicine’ of some sort in them as the early pharmacists (modern day sympathetic healers) recognised the healing properties of particular plants and roots. Something recognised in the Bible where we are commended to give thanks for the work of the Pharmacist and the Physician (Sirach 38v4-8)
Mind you I admit to a certain bias as my first full time job was in the research laboratories of Lederle Pharmaceuticals in Fareham. During that time I learnt more about tetracyclines than I care to remember and will never forget that, no matter what flavouring you use to mask it, erythromycin suspension tastes awful.
It is comforting to know that, in the healing of the Man born Blind, (the only healing with an ‘I AM’ saying directly attached to it) Jesus uses medicine.
Basic stuff, mud and spit, mixed together and then washed off with the most simple of all medicines, water.
Mud is still used in some therapies beyond the Beauty industry today, though I’m pretty certain that clients would not appreciate being charged good money for being spat upon!
Some people, and I think of one special friend who died of cancer because he chose ‘faith’ healing over chemotherapy, think that using medicines is either ungodly or unnatural.
Those who want their bodies cleansed of all artificial medicines and only dose themselves with herbs and roots forget that modern drugs are natural ingredients concentrated and refined for effectiveness.
Those who refuse treatment or vaccination on grounds of faith forget that Jesus used simple medicine to heal and the Bible commends the work of the Pharmacist.
It should not be surprising that we find Jesus using the things of the earth, that God made and proclaimed to be good, to help heal another part of that same creation. Jesus saw the world as a whole, each part meant to live in harmony with the other. Something that Francis of Assisi discerned later when he named the Sun our Brother, the Moon our Sister, and sang about gentle sister water being humble and precious and chaste.
Yet medicine is not always gentle. Of the regular medicine I take one of them is simply to counter the side effects of another. For me this is an inconvenience, for those undergoing intensive therapies such as chemotherapy the medicine is almost literally designed to kill you, or at least those tumours within us that threaten our lives.
This should remind us that drug therapy by itself is not a panacea. It should never be a case of ‘take two tablets’ and call me in the morning. All therapy should come with care and, for those who hold a faith, prayer.
During the Lockdown caused by the Covid19 pandemic I have spent my days delivering prescription medicines to those who are shielding themselves at home. As I drive about the streets of Felixstowe and Walton, Trimley and Kirton, I occasionally take a glance at the bag of medicines on the car seat next to me and pray for those who will be using them.
Perhaps this is something we can do ourselves if we are in a hospital or a care home? Try not to walk past a medicine trolley without whispering a silent prayer for those dispensing and those consuming the drugs. (Remembering not to disturb the dispenser who has a complicated task on their hands!).
Perhaps we could even do this ourselves when we take our own daily dose of medicine. Jesus prayed when he dispensed mud and saliva for healing, surely we should as well?
We give thanks for the work of Pharmacists and research scientists.
We pray that they would be given knowledge, wisdom, and discernment as they seek to find cures for disease.
We pray especially for those who work with contagious diseases and are trying to develop a vaccine against Covid19.
Lord, protect them, strengthen them, and refresh them
We give thanks for those who prescribed and dispensed the medicine we use ourselves and ask that we may be good stewards of their labours. Neither neglecting their use nor abusing them by over use.
Finally we pray for all those who have fallen under the thrall of addiction to drugs and ask that God’s holy angels would watch over them, protect them from danger, and lead them to places of recovery and sobriety.
Prayer for Healers
You sent your blessed Son
to be the great physician
of our souls and bodies:
Look upon those who have dedicated their lives to the ministry of healing body and soul.
Bless and strengthen them in your service;
use their skill for the relief of suffering
and the restoration of health;
and help them ever to remember
that in ministering to others they minister to you;
through the same Jesus Christ our Redeemer
(after Frank Colquhoun)
Have a sort through your medicine cabinet and dispose safely of any that are out of date or no longer used by your family.
Examine your regular medicine usage and try to get into the habit of saying a prayer for good health before taking any medicine
These Reflections, ‘Jesus the Healer’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged