Hezekiah's Prayer: the Aftermath of Healing
Grace Oei, MD, MA, Director of Clinical Ethics, Loma Linda University Health
The Old Testament story of King Hezekiah's healing is often recounted to exemplify God's compassionate response to the sincere plea of the faithful person who is ill to the point of death. The story is told to demonstrate the efficacy of prayer for healing and the use of medication (in this instance, a poultice of figs) to effect this healing. In these retellings, the focus is often on the personal healing of Hezekiah. However, all three Biblical accounts (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 38) connect the healing of Hezekiah with the political deliverance of Jerusalem. Furthermore, Isaiah and Kings detail the aftermath of Hezekiah's healing. Although Hezekiah personally benefitted, his actions after his healing led directly to the political destruction of Jerusalem. What should Christians, who take comfort in the hope of healing through the use of medication from Hezekiah's story, also learn from the connection between Hezekiah's healing and political rescue and the political destruction resulting from Hezekiah's actions post healing? In this paper presentation, I explore, from a clinician's perspective, parallels from the story of Hezekiah and Jerusalem with the personal experience of patient's unexpected restoration of health. How should a Christian clincian interpret the miraculous healing of a patient within the context of modern medicine? How does this story inform the Christian's understanding of the use of medications to bring about healing? How should miraculous healing affect the clinician's future practice of medicine? Can a clinician's current actions contribute to the destruction of the system of medicine? My hope is that a fuller understanding of Hezekiah's story can help Christians and clinicians consider the role (and efficacy) of prayer in illness, the personal and systemic dimensions of miraculous healing, and the part medications (and advanced medical technology) play in the restoration of health.