You cannot expect trust in God from every doctor, but you can expect trust in the patient
When sick does prayer help? Usually not – at least not if you’re expecting healing from that prayer. There are a lot of patients who seek recovery, and most of them do not improve their health. But sometimes things change after prayer. With Janneke Vlot, for example. She had barely been able to walk for 17 years when she attended a faith healing service in 2007 where she was healed instantly and jumped out of her wheelchair.
Her general physician, Dick Krugthof, could not believe his eyes. He became infatuated and decided to seek faith healing. Last Monday, sixteen years after Flute’s sudden recovery, he received his Ph. D. dissertation Healing after prayerat VU University Amsterdam. devotion He wrote about it on Wednesday.
Krugthoff studied 27 cases of patients who believed they were (partially) healed through prayer. Their illnesses ranged from multiple sclerosis to impending liver failure from hepatitis to Crohn’s disease. None of the 27 treatments turned out to be “unexplained,” but 11 were “medically remarkable.” Most of these eleven cases involved a rapid and sudden recovery in a situation in which only gradual improvement was medically possible.
Anything but predictable and repeatable
It was clear to the patients themselves: that God had healed them in answer to their prayers. But with active divine intervention, they can do little in medical science. Certainly not if this interference happened rarely, and then happened suddenly. Science, medical or otherwise, places a high value on predictability and repeatability. In his dissertation, Krugthoff explains that faith healing is anything but predictable and repeatable.
For example, the type of prayer that heals the sick is slightly different. Sometimes it was a personal prayer, sometimes a group prayer. Sometimes it was in the home, sometimes during a church service, sometimes during a private faith healing service, and sometimes during the anointing of the sick. Some patients believe in God, others do not. Sometimes the prayer was about healing, sometimes not about prayer: There was also a patient who had just prayed to be taken away from life.
In short, faith healing is a whimsical phenomenon. It cannot be explained by the usual medical theories, nor can it be investigated by the usual medical methods. As one of the patients Krugthoff studied told her doctors: “My body doesn’t fit in your medical books.”
Ignoring or denying is the easiest solution
What do you do with a body like that as a doctor? The easiest solution for many doctors: ignore or say no. This occurred in about half of the remarkable treatments Krugthoff studied. The doctors did not believe the patients, questioned the treatment, and reacted with anger or even anger at the patient’s story. They tried to prove that the patient had not recovered at all, for example by waving swabs or lab results that were completely abnormal as they were before the patient recovered. (It wasn’t always possible: Sometimes test results remained abnormal after recovery, but sometimes they weren’t.) It illustrates one of the idiosyncrasies of modern medicine: the idea that as a physician, with all your information and tools, it is best to be The patient is better than the patient himself.
But patients are not crazy. They themselves know how much pain they are in, how far they can walk, how well they can hear – and how that has changed after prayer.
Krugthoff’s thesis clearly shows that there are long-term patients who suddenly recover completely or dramatically after prayer. There aren’t many, but they do exist. You have to do something with that, as a doctor. You don’t have to immediately become religious about it, but take the patient, and therefore the treatment, very seriously.
You cannot expect trust in God from every doctor, but trust in a patient should be an axiom.
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