How Medicine Is a Means of Common Grace

God’s Kindness towards Us

When I talk about common means of kindness, I'm referring to the fact that God has compassion for all he has made and he loves us all. He makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust and the sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous. He will provide these things for everyone—all of creation—just because that's who he is and it is out of love for us.

Medicine is one of those means. In very broad strokes, God offers it to us as a way for us to have healing, to overcome illness, to overcome infirmity and pain—all loving and kind things for him to do for us. All the medicines we have and all knowledge is from him. Those are ways for him to express his care for us.

Glimmers of Grace

Kathryn Butler, MD

In Glimmers of Grace, Christian physician Kathryn Butler draws from her experience as a trauma surgeon and a Bible teacher to reflect upon how God’s word remains living, active, and trustworthy in the midst of illness.

Love God and Love Neighbor

But it even goes deeper than that because medicine also prompts us to remember to love God and love neighbor. It calls us to those first great commandments. When I say that, I'm referring to the fact that it prompts us especially to love one another as Christ has loved us and to pursue medicine as a ministry of mercy. We can care about, lay on hands, and love those who are downtrodden and afflicted.

This can be done in very dramatic ways through the saving of life in the setting of trauma and injury and severe illness, but you also can see his love breaking through in the much smaller moments of just laying on hands.

Medicine also prompts us to remember to love God and love neighbor.

When you have a nurse holding the hand of a patient as he goes under anesthesia before an operation, or a doctor and a loved one embracing after the birth of a child or after a loved one has come through an operation safely, or a nursing assistant who always puts it upon herself to shave a gentleman's face in the ICU, or a clinician who will forgo sleep to stay at the bedside of someone who's critically ill and try to usher them through the night—those are all examples of laying your life down for another and loving one another as God loves us.

So, medicine is a common means of God's kindness, not only in that it allows us to have this avenue of healing and to be an instrument of his mercy, but because it also prompts us to pause and to love one another and to remember who it was that loved us first.

Kathryn Butler is the author of Glimmers of Grace: A Doctor's Reflections on Faith, Suffering, and the Goodness of God

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