I saw a post recently by a Christian blogger on Patheos claiming that about 18 years ago he was healed of some incurable disease and that it was evidence of God’s existence. I have a very similar personal anecdote…and oddly enough I find little to no evidence that it was indeed divine intervention that saved me. Here goes.
After high school I opted not to go directly into college because I knew that I was not disciplined enough to continue my education at that age. I began working construction and moving around the labor market. I was heavily involved in church and still a devout Christian at the time. I was actively involved in church activities and spent a lot of time helping out youth group activities, taking part in the young adults group, and generally being pissed off at the incredibly ignorant pastoral staff. I had some personal issues the authoritarian approach that the staff at church took towards anyone who disagreed with their ‘interpretation’ of the word.
Nonetheless, I had been working construction and other labor jobs for over two years and in the fall of 2004 I began to lose a lot of weight without any explanation. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. I’ve always been very active, physically fit, and involved in some type of physical job. I hadn’t changed my diet and I hadn’t been exercising any more than normal. If anything, I was so tired that I actually was working out less.
I was hesitant to go to the doctor because I was uninsured (another blog topic for another time). I was a young man fresh out of high school without a very good paying job and couldn’t afford the insurance since my work was so sporadic. I would end up working and coming home to sleep. I felt very weak all the time but knew that I couldn’t find another job that would allow me to afford my car and insurance.
I also had a very small frame. I always have and until I joined the Marine Corps I was a pretty small guy. I was 5’9″ and weighed roughly around 160 lbs. Within a few months I had dropped 40 pounds and was hovering around 120…which was the smallest I had been in a long time. I was nothing but skin and bones. I finally decided that I had no choice but to go to the doctor. I went to a “free clinic”. It was supposedly designed to help the poor and those that couldn’t afford to go to the emergency room. I got tested for a multitude of things. They took blood and stool samples and I ended up going back and forth for more than a few visits.
I was told that I had hyperthyroidism. I had no idea what that was. I was informed that the thyroid gland was what regulated your metabolism, heart rate, and essentially the organs in your body. Without proper treatment, surgery, and possibly medicine for the rest of my life it could be very very dangerous. I was scheduled to do an Iodine Thyroid scan to determine whether or not it was just a single node or the entire gland. The results from that would determine whether or not I would need surgery. The problem with the surgery is that a result can be hypothyroid. With hypothyroid I would have the opposite effect. The thyroid gland would not be working enough. From one problem into another.
Then came the bill
I opened the mailbox one morning to discover a bill from the free clinic. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there might be a co-pay but when I saw the dollar figure I did a double-take. One visit alone had cost me over $500. Add on the other visits, the tests, and some medicine and I was suddenly in a huge hole of debt. It turns out this “free clinic” was a private clinic that was authorized by the state to conduct medical service for the poor and underpriveleged. If anyone had income of any kind they had legal loopholes into how to bill them without fear of repercussion. I mean, when you’re preying on the poor and unhealthy it’s pretty easy to act nefariously since you know they can’t afford to litigate. I wanted to give up.
I stopped going to the doctor. I stopped going to work. I just ended up sitting in my tiny apartment feeling myself, my health, and my life whittle away. I was always tired, my muscles or what were left of them were in pain, and I was drowning in debt that I wasn’t sure I could recover from. I had friends, family, and a girlfriend that I just didn’t know how to talk to, either. I was stuck. I started drinking my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’d show up to church pretty disenfranchised and finally I came to my senses. I knew I had to do something.
I knew that hyperthyroid, left untreated, could result in Graves Disease. Graves Disease is a condition where the body will recognize it’s own cells as intruders and attack them. It can be deadly and sounded somewhat similar to what the HIV virus does. I’m not a scientist nor a doctor so it’s not an exact comparison – symptomatically nor with danger level – so please don’t make that a topic of debate. I just knew I had to find a way to get treatment and I couldn’t afford it.
My ‘saving grace’
I called my father. Every time I’ve been in a rough jam he’s dropped everything he’s been up to (including his own job at times) to make sure I was taken care of. He lived over 2000 miles away and once drove up to see me because I was in a bind, and another time made his way up there to help me move across the country. This time he came through again. I broke down to him and told him I was sick, uninsured, and needed help. He bought me an airline ticket and told me to hurry up and get down there. I made some preparations, told a few close friends, said goodbye to everyone else at church (who all told me they would pray for me) and jumped on the flight down south in mid-December.
When my father and stepmother picked me up from the airport they were shocked at my appearance. They couldn’t believe how ragged and fragile I looked. I’d always been a healthy, robust, athletic individual. My stepmom hugged me and told me everything would be okay. Of course, I doubted it but smiled anyways. We set up an appointment for a few days later and I spent those days at my father’s house just eating and sleeping. We went to the doctor, their family doctor who was also a good friend – my stepmother is a Registered Nurse at the local so she makes lots of friends. The doctor asked me a lot of questions, showed genuine concern, and conducted a few tests. I was told we could come back in two days and he’d have all the results.
I spent a lot of that time worrying…and honestly who wouldn’t? The doctor walked in to the office and I held my breath, having already heard how bad it was, and waited for the worst.
You’re fine. Perfectly healthy. No hyperthyroid. If you had it before you don’t have it now.
I asked him if he was sure and continued to inquire as to what could have been happening to me. He had no idea and, although friendly, seemed a little annoyed every time I asked if he ‘was sure’. After many assurances that I was healthy he stated that he thought I never had it, or that the other doctor had been lying to me. While I didn’t doubt the other doctor may have been lying in order to funnel money into his own pocket…I knew the symptoms I had developed and the life I had been living. I knew it wasn’t in my mind because I absolutely detest the mindset of those who get sick with every small symptom. I had fought it for so long before I finally broke down and went looking for help. But now suddenly and without explanation I was cured?
I flew back home the next week and saw my health return quite quickly. The strength returned to my muscles, all the weight I lost came back, and I felt as if nothing had ever happened to me. Once people at church found out they began saying that they’re “prayers were answered” and that it was a Miraculous Healing of God. I even had one of the pastors confront me and say that I was lucky and should realize it was a healing from God. He told me I needed to dedicate my life to God and let other people knew what had been done for me. I nodded my head but really didn’t believe any of it. I had doubts.
The fact that I had been “healed” or whatever you would like to refer to it as didn’t give me any of peace of mind on the issue of God. If anything, it made it all the more confusing. I doubted more, trusted less, and saw no evidence of having been healed by god. It just didn’t sit well with me. There was not enough evidence for me to believe…and I was still a Christian.
So this is what it boils down to: evidence. What the hell is evidence, then? All these Christian apologists always attempt to change the facts when the facts don’t line up with their “holy” book. It’s understandable on a certain level. If you declare that this book is inerrant then you MUST do that as a matter of cognitive survival.
From what I have observed evidence in Christian Apologetics is whatever facts help substantiate the claims that are made in the Holy Bible. And the facts that don’t corroborate are philosophically spun into supporting evidence. Like the word ‘faith’. I’ve heard the word faith defined as “The evidence of things unseen”. That sounds noble and honorable to these Christian apologists but let’s be honest…faith in that sense is the evidence of gullibility and reasonophobia. I coined that just now. It’s not in the DSM-IV…yet.
My healing was no more evidence of a divine being than anyone else’s. Sometimes it just happens. Medical science has yet to explain it but let’s just think of the possibilities if and when they do! If scientists could somehow replicate the process and enable other people to be ‘miraculously’ healed….ooh the possibility gives me goosebumps! But no, so many of us want to stay wrapped in the dark ages. Science has helped humanity far more than faith. And when science doesn’t have the answer they’re still looking for it. Which is more than I can say about prayer, faith, or God…or god. Whichever one you think did it.