Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prayer, Medicine and Comfort

Last Tuesday Enoh had a little rash on his stomach. By Wednesday it had spread from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head. Petra took him to the doctor as soon as she saw how quickly it had multiplied. The doctor took one look and with surprise said: "Wow this is only the second time in my life I've seen a baby have strep throat". He immediately prescribed antibiotics in a sweet bubblegum flavor and said he'd be fine.

The thing I found interesting was my reaction to the whole thing.

Our current financial status allows us to be eligible for MassHealth - an insurance plan for those who can't otherwise afford one here in Massachusetts. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much it covers: I have a new pair of glasses at no expense, both Petra and I have had physicals, and Enoh has a pediatrician who he's seen 3 times since he's been in the States. So my first reaction to the news of his minor sickness was to be thankful for the inexpensive access to medicine that we have.

As I thought about it, I realized I wasn't even given the opportunity to pray for Enoh's health after hearing the diagnosis. He had strep and bam - he had medicine; no problem.

In Croatia it was different. When Enoh was taken to the hospital at one month old because of his jaundice doctors and nurses alike weren't sure what the problem was. We - along with our family, church, and friends - immediately started praying. In the end Enoh was absolutely fine. It turned out that Petra's milk was giving him the jaundice and all we had to do was dilute the milk in his system by feeding him juice and water.

But the diagnosis took days - so we prayed for days. And after all was said and done it appeared as if God answered our prayers in accordance to how we prayed - that Enoh be healed.

The two situations remind me that in America we have less of a need to pray. Medicine, self-help books, shrinks, entertainment and money all help us help ourselves. If you have a headache just take aspirin, or a drink, or a baseball game - you choose.

While Croatia has medicine, and an assortment of other material things to rely on, I've found that I'm quicker to pray when I'm over there. The disparity between the physical 'things' in Croatia and the States seems to be related to the amount of praying I do for medical related issues in the two countries.

It begs the question: to what extent does my comfort influence my reliance on God?

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