the church

Health Care in an Unlikely Place

“If you want to get healthy, you just might not want to go to a doctor. You might instead, go to church. “ At least that is what practicing physician, Dr. Mark Hyman thinks. A regular contributor for the Huffington Post Health, Hyman suggests that we may be looking to the wrong places for answers to our health issues. Essentially, health care is America’s means to answering our health woes and ailments. Be it our increase in diabetes, chronic diseases or issues with Planned Parenthood (more like the “oops, I did it again”- accidental coverage), we are fixated on every shift and change of this ever-evolving system. While health care couldn’t be a greater concern for our Nation, could we be banking on the wrong people and systems for our health and well being? 

The words “health care” didn’t always carry much weight for me before graduating college. Honestly, while it may sound naive (or plain ignorant,) I don’t think the words crossed my mind much until moving to NYC, on my own and on a religious job hunt. Even then I was perfectly content without it until maybe retirement (as in, never.) But now, knowing how blessed I am with a Full-Time job, I don’t take such benefits for granted. While there are so many who don’t have health care, those of us who do have it seem to be quickly overwhelmed by the many issues within our coverage; like, how the next President will change the way our plans looks, how much longer we can fudge around as a dependent, enjoying mom and dad’s benefits (if you’re still under 26, enjoy it while you can), or even now, the major uproar over the Birth Control Opt-Out Passed (though this opens another can of worms, that I will save for another time.) And I won’t even begin to talk about our lack of common sense where food and fitness is concerned. But for all the above, we live in a Nation that has been fashioned to feel the need to depend on Health Care providers and on our government, probably more than we wish to. Yet our country continues to decline in health, while still escalating in worry and stress. It’s a rigorous cycle.

It’s rare to hear a Dr. offer “the church” as an answer to our health needs, let alone on The Huffington Post. I believe the church plays a vital role in our emotional health and wellness, but that the church can also increase and heal our physical and mental health ( “the church” meaning, not just the fact that you go, but, the community that you are spending time with and the faith that you share in God.) When more of our illnesses increase in complexity and new ones continue develop, how can we rely on man to have all the answers, let alone properly govern how our needs are met. While “the church” is offered by Hyman as a place of emotional wellness and community, that will likely bring healing to our bones as well our soul, I would go further to say that the church, founded on the grace and faith of Jesus Christ, ought to fill us wiht an even greater expectation for healing and restoration.

There was a day when people referred to church as if it were a hospital, seeking more answers from God than anywhere else. But as we’ve grown as a country, developing more systems and answer to our problems, we seem to think we can provide solutions to it all. Though this doesn’t change how many chronic diseases are vaguely diagnosed, how many cancer patience undergo treatments that seem to be stripping them of more life than they can afford, or how people like my Dad, who has been diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia for the past 15 years, “ a neurological voice disorder that involves “spasms” of the vocal cords causing interruptions of speech and affects the voice quality. SD can cause the voice to break up or to have a tight, strained, or strangled quality.”  My Dad, a professor, author, minister and speaker, was a full time pastor when one Christmas service he completely lost his voice in the middle of the sermon. There was no reason and doctors had no explanation. However, when my Dad lost his voice he began writing, and from it has published several books, contributes to several magazines, blogs (still with much more in the works) and continues to speak.  And we, the family, continue to believe God to heal him. Miracles still do happen. There are questions health care can’t answer and ailments our doctors can’t cure. So why do we go to our health care as our first resource to heal our ailments, instead of the church? Why do we get so stressed over providers who cannot completely provide all we need?

I’m not even sure if Dr. Hyman goes to church, but he certainly has a good idea of it’s vital role in our lives. More of our physical well being is connected to our trust and faith in God than we often wish to acknowledge, if we acknowledge there is a God at all. But while we continue to fork over our dollar bills, labeled “In God we Trust”, to our care providers, without ever seeking healing in the church and in God, we essentially are handing over trust and expectancy to men, science and a complex world of health that cannot fully our needs. So on Sunday, if you are begrudgingly rolling out of bed to go to church ( especially as we Spring ahead this weekend) think of it as a God-given health care, only one with no strings attached and no lifetime limit.