Part of a God-Ordained Life

Imagine surgery before the day of anesthesia. Patients were strapped down while scalpel and saw cut through tissue and bone, every slice and turn of the knife causing unimaginable pain.

One Christian physician determined to do something about it. Sir James Young Simpson (1811–1870) practiced medicine in Scotland. He became senior president of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh when only twenty-four, and in time received virtually every possible honor and position. He dreamed of finding a way of putting patients to sleep during surgery. On Monday evenings, Simpson periodically invited small groups of physicians to his home to experiment with chemicals, crystals, and powders, which were placed over a burning brazier while the doctors inhaled the fumes. Nothing worked until November 4, 1847. One of the men had purchased a crystal called chloroform in Paris. As the doctors sniffed the burning substance, they fell to the floor unconscious.

Simpson had his answer, but he soon encountered another problem. He was attacked by fellow Christians who claimed that pain was a God-ordained part of life. Freedom from pain comes only in heaven, and it is immoral to devise dangerous ways of escaping it on earth.

Sir James went to the Scriptures, seeking answers. He no sooner opened his Bible than he came to this verse : “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.” Carefully studying the text, Simpson wrote an article entitled, “Answer to the Religious Objections Advanced Against the Employment of Anesthetic Agents in Midwifery and Surgery.” He ended his paper saying, “We may rest fully assured that whatever is true on point of fact or humane and merciful in point of practice, will find no condemnation in the Word of God.”

His critics were silenced, and a new day dawned in medical science.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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