In a sermon I gave last Sunday I talked about my visit to the St. Anne de Beaupre Church just outside of Quebec City. One of first things I noticed when I walked into the cathedral were these cases that stretched high up to the ceiling filled with crutches and canes and hearing aids and orthotic shoes. They were items people had left at the church after experiencing a miraculous healing there.
St. Anne de Beaupre is said to be the site of many divine healings. It began when the church was being constructed in 1658. One of its original builders had severe scoliosis and walked with a crutch. By the time the church building was complete he was able to walk independently. Countless similar miracles are said to have happened to cathedral visitors.
I do know healing can seem almost miraculous. My father was a physician, and he has told me stories of patients who recovered their health against all odds. But there can be a danger in the kind of belief in supernatural divine healing like people think has happened to them at Saint Anne’s.
Trusting in divine healing can prevent people from seeking the professional medical help they need. It can also have them put off taking the steps they should to be healthy, like quitting smoking, getting a vaccine, or exercising. It can also leave people disillusioned and bitter when God doesn’t provide the hoped for outcome.
This is not to say however that believing God is walking with you through a health crisis isn’t important. Research has shown that health outcomes can be impacted by a belief in the divine. Apparently people of faith are less stressed and anxious about their illnesses and are generally more hopeful about a positive outcome.
It seems that things work out best when medical science and religious faith walk hand in hand.