Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Healing Children

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Grand Rapids, Michigan

“One trip through a children’s ward and if your faith isn’t shaken, 
you’re not the type who deserves any faith”
Peter De Vries (1959)

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them
 Mark 10: 13-16 (MSG)

There are few challenges that test our faith as severely as sudden and serious illness in our children!   Peter DeVries identified our dilemma in his novel Blood of the Lamb.(1961)  What we pray for is that our children will be spared illness and suffering!  

Like the disciples, we miss seeing God’s kingdom.  We miss seeing the preparation and discipline of the many healing agents who have been called to be present in the emergencies.  We miss seeing God’s healing community.  We miss believing that we are all children of God.

What I have come to believe is that despite our anger and terror, God has been and is present in all the storms of life and he particularly cares for children!   Thanks be to God for his grace and blessing.



De Vries, P.. (2005). The Blood of the Lamb: A Novel (New edition ed.). University Of Chicago Press.  See foreword by Jeffrey Frank

Hage, J (2010) “The God that Weeps” Sermon delivered at Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church on 7/11/2010

Hage, M. L. (2012). God’s Grace.

Hage, M. L. (2015). Healing Grandparents.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Heart Healing

“That’s what we must pray for, each of us — A new heart.  Not a heart of stone, but a heart open to the fears and hopes and challenges of our fellow citizens.”
President Barack Obama - Dallas - July 12, 2016

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  
Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

The first healing books that I read were by Norman Cousins, The Anatomy of an Illness  and the companion Healing Heart.  I remember thinking how important it is to look for the other dimensions of disease of what I had only understood as pathophysiology.  

Yesterday, was a time to think anew about “a change of heart”, “a new heart”.  We need a new way forward.   The old responses have disappointed and have fallen short of our expectations.  We need to think and act differently if we expect reconciliation.  Where will be find this kind of heart healing?

The faith community is the one place that is equipped for this task.  We have become separated from this source of care and change.  Our “hearts” need to be reconnected with each other and the faith that sustains us.  The Lord promises this to his people who were broken and oppressed.  We believe that promise is still at work in the actions of people of faith.



Cousins, N. (1983). Anatomy of an Illness. Bantam Doubleday Dell.
Cousins, N. (1984). Healing Heart. Avon Books (Mm).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Healing Hate

“Shoes on the Danube Bank”
Budapest, Hungary

"The composition titled 'Shoes on the Danube Bank' gives remembrance to the people ( mainly Budapest jews ) shot into the Danube during the time of the Arrow Cross terror. The sculptor created sixty pairs of period-appropriate shoes out of iron. The shoes are attached to the stone embankment, and behind them lies a 40 meter long, 70 cm high stone bench. At three points are cast iron signs, with the following text in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew: "To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005."[

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35 (NIV)

It happened on the same river that we were enjoying.  We were docked 100 meters from the “Shoes”.  We saw the remains of hate.  We have seen those remains again and again where hate becomes the command.  So besides erecting memorials what are we called to do!  The idea that remembering the tragedies will prevent them from reoccurring seems to be false given recent events.  Where is that balm in Gilead?  Can anger and hate be healed?  

Upon returning, I was informed that our church was reading Jim Wallis’s book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.  There are multiple actions that are recommended in response.  The larger answer is that we must be the community of faith that witnesses to the larger truth of  being God’s children.  It is the Church’s witness of God’s response to the weeping of His children that brings healing and comfort to the grieving.

My personal answer is that I must confess my own quickness to hate, frustration and anger.  As Christians we are called to be bearers of the cross that represents our sins and ask again and  again for forgiveness.  The good news is that is where we meet Christ’s Love that promises a new heaven and a new earth.  

Thanks be to God for the gift of healing that first comes with a Love from above.



Wallis, J. (2016). America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Brazos Press.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Search for Healing

Statue of Saints Cosmas (l) and Damian (r) with Christ (c) on the Charles Bridge
Prague, Czech Republic, 1709
The Patron Saints of Physicians

I just returned from a river cruise that ended in Prague.  We were taken to the famous Charles Bridge and during a brief stop, I found I was standing beneath a statue that speaks to the basis of healing across the centuries.  I almost missed it given all the beautiful architecture on a bright and sunny day in Prague.

What was impressive to me are the continued challenges to healing given the difficult history of the region. We had the opportunity to hear from a volunteer who aided refugees in Hungary.  We visited a school for the Roma people. There have been and are real challenges to the people of this region.  

The modern story of the search for healing also came unexpectedly from our guide, Peter Nagy who wrote, The Way Out.  It is ten short stories that address the modern dilemmas and meaning of life.  It was a wonderful way to hear the challenges from a young searcher.  It was a wonderful way to connect the dots of the past and present.



Hurst J. A modern Cosmas and Damian: Sir Roy Calne and Thomas Starzl receive the 2012 Lasker~Debakey Award. Journal of Clinical Investigation.  122(10):3378-82, 2012 Oct.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Joy of Healing

Celebration at UNC School of Medicine Graduation

“…may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
Hippocratic Oath

It is rare to find others who have traveled and share a similar vocational journey.  I found that person and journey in the book, The Finest Traditions of My Calling One Physician’s Search for the Renewal of Medicine, by Abraham Nussbaum, MD.   He has been on a big quest as his memoir recounts.

The book is full of big ideas and not the least of these is the “joy of healing” found in the last sentence of the Hippocratic oath.  This joy seems hard to find in the reality of current western medical practice.  As the photo demonstrates, there are exceptions even in the face of the reality.  

Will there be “joy” after 10 years of practice or at the end of their professional career?  There are certainly no guarantees, but I suggest that a positive response hinges on being able, like Abraham Nussbaum, to remember your calling and oaths.   These are the foundation for the “joy of healing”.



1. Screen shot from the UNC School of Medicine graduation on May 7, 2016

2. Nussbaum, Abraham M. (2016-03-22). The Finest Traditions of My Calling: One Physicians Search for the Renewal of Medicine. Yale University Press. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Healing Curriculum

What if you were given the opportunity to design an educational curriculum that had as its purpose the teaching and learning of healing?  What would you emphasize?  How would you do it?  Are there examples?  Does the healing goal exist under another name?

What I have found is this healing curriculum is identified by a variety of titles but only rarely is the word “healing” used.  The reasons are complicated particularly in our Western culture.  For me the opportunity to see and live this curriculum has been in Africa.   Here is what I can recommend from what I have found:
  1. We need to use the word healing.    
  2. We need to name healing when we see it happen in our patients.
  3. We need to name healing when we are the recipients as physicians, nurses and therapists
  4. We need to teach healing in our relationship with students and patients.
The best part of being in healthcare has been being a part of the larger story of healing.  It is a sustainable prescription to a suffering world.



Boudreau JD;  Cassell EJ;  Fuks A. A healing curriculum.  Medical Education.  41(12):1193-201, 2007 Dec.

Previous blog references:
Hage, M. L. (2009). Healing at Tenwek.
Hage, M. L. (2010). Christian Surgical Mentoring.
Hage, M. L. (2012). Educational Partnerships.
Hage, M.L. (2012) Burnout and “Path Report”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another Kind of Healing

Julius, the carpenter, and the custom chair for a child with cerebral palsy
Tenwek Hospital, Kenya

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”  But in the next breath they were cutting him down: 
“He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. 
We’ve known him since he was a kid."    
Mark 6:1-3a (MSG)

I just finished a book by Kate Bowler, Blessed, A History of American Prosperity Gospel, that provided a deeper and wider look at healing as seen and understood in American religious culture.  It is a comprehensive history.

I have professionally and personally avoided this history.  Kate Bowler helped me understand two important issues: (1) Healing has been an important part of American culture and (2) religious healing has been seen mostly as rapid “cures”.  This book helped me to appreciate the importance of a bigger definition of healing that is not limited to a culture or cure.  

I read this book after spending a month in Kenya (Tenwek Hospital) where healing is embraced as central to their mission.  It’s meaning there is not about performance or a method of aggrandizement. It is God at work through the hands and feet of very dedicated and committed physicians, nurses, therapists and missionaries.  It is the body of Christ.  It even happens with healing hands of a carpenter!


Bowler, K. (2013). Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (1 ed.). Oxford University Press. 

Shuman, J., & Volck, B. M. D. (2006). Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine (The Christian Practice of Everyday Life) (1 ed.). Brazos Press.