Thank you very much to all those who sent me good wishes after my injury; I am pleased to be able to say that the pain has gone, my ribs have healed up and I am back to full strength.
Some have asked about the final thought of my March letter when I said that I thanked Jesus for hospitals. “Trace the lines back from today’s desire and ability to heal people; so many of them go to the one who went around ‘healing every kind of disease and sickness’”. I wrote ‘so many’ and not ‘all’ because of course there are other people and movements that have led to our healthcare system. But think about these four foundations:
1. Compassion. Ask the historians and sociologists whether compassion is a universal human response to suffering and sickness or not. The worldwide symbol of Christian faith does not commemorate Jesus’ teaching but rather his execution, as he willingly sacrificed his life to save the lives of others. “By his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Is there a more powerful motivation for compassion?
2. Science. A scientific understanding of the world, combined with skill in changing it, flourished in those countries that accepted what the Bible teaches – that God is predictable, not capricious. The workings of the world are therefore understandable, experiments are repeatable, and medicine is worthwhile because our lives are not ruled by chance or fate.
3. A high view of human life. Jesus affirmed the Old Testament that teaches that every human being, from those who are just conceived to those who are close to death, is a person made in God’s image and therefore precious to him. No one is ‘too much trouble’.
4. Good staff relationships. In any organisation finding a way for people to get on with each other and work well together is nearly always the biggest challenge. Who else can rival Jesus’ teaching and example on this? “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that … I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)
I wholeheartedly recommend this thought-provoking book by the Indian philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi: ‘The Book That Made Your World – How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization’.