What Future for the Practice of Medicine?
ASKING about the future for physicians often leads to speculation over advances in technology and the question of whether these will free physicians of routine tasks so they can spend more time with patients as individuals. The future for physicians, of course, is bound up with the wider question of the future for mankind. Two Bible books that shed light on that future relate the history of Jesus and his apostles. Both were written by a physician.
Why is it of particular interest to have a physician’s viewpoint in those histories? What do they have to do with the future for physicians and for patients? Why do some physicians look forward to a time when their profession will not be needed?
Many physicians are careful observers. Luke, called “the beloved physician,” was the writer of the two Bible books, and he gave detailed descriptions of some of the sick people whom Jesus and also the apostles cured. (Colossians 4:14) Luke thus helps us to consider the questions: Did these things really happen? And if so, what does this imply for doctors and patients today?
Medical Evidence Examined
Luke had opportunity to verify the miraculous nature of those cures by interviewing eyewitnesses. In addition, he traveled extensively with the apostle Paul. Apparently, Paul healed a number of people while Luke was present. As we consider the physician’s accounts of two such cures, notice how much detail he included.
Luke gives the time, date, and place of the following event: It was midnight on the first day of the week, and a group of Christians were in a third-story room in Troas, in the Roman province of Asia. (Acts 20:4-8) We read the details: “A certain young man named Eutychus fell into a deep sleep while Paul kept talking on, and, collapsing in sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead.” Then with God’s power, Paul cured the young man’s injuries and restored him to life. After a meal, “they took the boy away alive and were comforted beyond measure.”—Acts 20:9-12.
Luke reports that he was also with Paul in Malta. They were being entertained hospitably by Publius, “the principal man” of the island, when Paul performed another miracle. It involved a man whose condition, in those days before modern antibiotics, may well have been life threatening. Luke relates: “The father of Publius was lying down distressed with fever and dysentery, and Paul went in to him and prayed, laid his hands upon him and healed him. After this occurred, the rest of the people on the island who had sicknesses also began to come to him and be cured.”—Acts 28:7-9.
What Convinced the Physician?
Luke wrote those accounts in the book of Acts while his readers could still verify the facts by talking to the people involved. Concerning what he recorded in the Bible book that bears his name, Luke wrote: “I have traced all things from the start with accuracy . . . that you may know fully the certainty of the things.” (Luke 1:3, 4) What this physician saw and researched convinced him that Jesus’ teachings were true. The miraculous cures were part of those teachings, giving a basis for belief in the Bible prophecy that disease will eventually be conquered by God. (Isaiah 35:5, 6) As a medical practitioner accustomed to dealing with suffering, Luke must have found it especially heartwarming to contemplate a time when his profession would no longer be needed. Do you find such a prospect appealing?
Interestingly, this is what the future holds for those who love God, no matter where they live on earth. The Bible promises that under God’s Kingdom, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) Many modern-day physicians have concluded that there is a logical basis for believing the Bible’s promises.
‘It Was Very Appealing to Me’
“Like most people, I went into medicine to help people who are suffering from disease,” says Dr. Jon Schiller, a family practitioner in North America. “The hope of a world without disease was very appealing to me. I started attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses after I had taken a college course on the history of Western civilization. That course showed that religions were at the bottom of a lot of problems, and it seemed to me that they were also hypocritical in their treatment of the Bible. So I wondered, ‘What does the Bible really say?’
“At the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was initially attracted by the friendly people, who were a pleasant contrast to many of my acquaintances. A Witness approached me and offered to visit me to discuss the Bible. What impressed me was that no matter what I asked, he showed me the answer in the Bible.
“The older I get, the more I appreciate being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When you start out as a young doctor, you have hope of achieving something worthwhile. But I often see disillusioned people who feel that they haven’t really accomplished much. I think that one of the greatest things about being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that we have a hope for the future and a purpose in life. Whether we are doctors, mechanics, or janitors, we know that what we are doing in our service to God is something worthwhile; we are doing something for Jehovah. And that gives us satisfaction.”
“Applying Bible Principles Improved Our Family”
Dr. Krister Renvall is a doctor in Finland, and he always enjoys talking with children. “One day I spoke with a 12-year-old girl who had terminal cancer,” he says. “She gave me a book called True Peace and Security—From What Source?a Her expressions of faith during her terminal illness impressed me, but I didn’t find time to read the book. In fact, at the time, I was so busy working at a clinic in Helsinki that it was adversely affecting my family.
“Some time later, however, my wife took the book down from the shelf and began reading it. She was immediately convinced that what she was reading was the truth. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses called on her and began studying the Bible with her. At first my wife was a little afraid to tell me about it. But when she told me, I said, ‘Anything that will help our family is good.’ I began taking part in the study. Applying Bible principles improved our family and gave us a new outlook on life. I was delighted to learn about the hope of a world without sickness; it seemed natural that God would have such a purpose for mankind. Soon my wife and I, and finally all of the family, were baptized. That little girl who first spoke to me died, but in effect, her faith lives on.”
Life is increasingly stressful for doctors in our rapidly changing world, making their sacrifices in aiding the sick praiseworthy indeed. But the biggest changes ever to affect mankind are soon to come upon us. Many physicians today confidently look forward to the future that God’s Word promises—a world free of disease! (Revelation 21:1-4) This is a subject worth researching personally.
a Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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“I REALIZED THAT LIFE HAS A PURPOSE”
“While working with handicapped schoolchildren, I noticed how parents who were Jehovah’s Witnesses stood out. They seemed better able to cope with having a handicapped child than other parents in the same situation. I also noticed that they were better educated than one would expect from the occupation they had. I admired their faith. My faith had been all but destroyed by teachers of the theory of evolution. Nevertheless, my medical studies had left me intrigued by the phenomenon of life.
“At that same time, I had begun to realize that I didn’t know how to raise my children. What should I forbid? What should I encourage? What could I give them as a purpose in life? My own life had become meaningless. I even prayed for help.
“That was when Jehovah’s Witnesses brought me a magazine about how to correct and reprove children with love. I found the Bible principles it explained to be really helpful, so I accepted their offer of a Bible study. As I learned why Jehovah created life and why Jesus died, I realized that life has a purpose. (John 3:16; Romans 5:12, 18, 19) Evolution had twisted my thinking. How relieved I was when I learned that disease and death were not part of God’s original purpose! Today I continue to find real satisfaction in teaching sincere people how God will soon cure all disease.”
Helena Bouwhuis worked as a medical practitioner for schoolchildren in the Netherlands
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The physician and Bible writer Luke was Paul’s traveling companion when the apostle cured the father of Publius and resurrected Eutychus
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Dr. Jon Schiller, United States
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Dr. Krister Renvall, Finland