Sunday, January 22, 2012

Apprehending Gratitude


You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! – Psalm 30:11-12

Reading about the discovery of insulin taught me gratitude the way a tsunami teaches a field water. Some things are so worthy of gratitude that they bypass mere instruction and overwhelm us instead.

Dr. Frederick Banting, Dr. J.J.R. Macleod, Dr. Charles Best, and Dr. Bertram Collip. Looking at these men’s pictures on Wikipedia brings tears to my eyes. I want to grab their shoulders, look into their eyes, and yell, “THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY SON!!!” (Yes – I’ve mentioned I’m a drama queen!)

Until the 1920’s, juvenile diabetes (type 1) was uniformly fatal, allowing children about 11 months to live after diagnosis. These four doctors isolated the mysterious pancreatic excretion that was believed the key to treating diabetes. With insulin’s discovery, type 1 diabetes was no longer a death sentence.

It’s a strange feeling to look at my dear son and know he owes his life to these four men we’ll never meet. Strange, too, to view needles and sensors and a cumbersome insulin pump as priceless, much-loved friends. But these daily interceptors between my son and certain death are treasures to me.

Of course, it wasn’t just these four doctors who saved my son. They were “standing on the shoulders of giants*,” able to research effectively because of advances in thinking and science that great people made in previous centuries. Even today, wonderful doctors and researchers relentlessly pursue a complete cure. Where do you find words to thank someone for that?!

There’s nothing like a disease to reveal how deeply connected we are to others, to history, and to the future. For better or worse, we are who we are largely because of those who lived before us.

The most stunning feature in the landscape of human achievements is the ground of divine mercy and love on which they are built. I believe that disease, natural disasters, war and evil are all the result of sin, which has devastated our world. People often wonder why, if God is good, evil and suffering abound. Instead, we might ponder why there is anything good, since we are sinful. Cures and improvements can be seen as evidence of God’s loving guidance in a sin-sick world. We are not abandoned!

And the ultimate cure is available to anyone. Physical death will come to everyone, but spiritual death – eternal separation from God – need not. The greatest evidence of God’s merciful intervention is the decision of Jesus to pay for our sin. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) As wonderful as medical cures are, nothing can compare to the gift of eternal life.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)



16 comments:

  1. Wow, a lot of food for thought. How much we take for granted today. I had no idea diabetes was a death sentence back then. What a blessing insulin is indeed.

    Thank you for your post and Christian references.

    ReplyDelete
  2. you have a great attitude for life!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your blog! Great work. Thanks for the visit.

      Delete
  3. Hi Lisa, I'm glad you are looking at things with a grateful heart. There is so much we take for granted, isn't there? Like the discovery of insulin. Hallelujah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Betsy! I always love when you stop by my blog. Hope we'll get to connect sometimes during '12.

      Delete
  4. Wonderful post Lisa. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about those who have made the life of a type 1 diabetic better. My pump is my dear friend too. Hope things are going well with your son, you are both always in my prayers and thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, Kayce. I am really grateful to know people like you, who are successfully managing this disease - it is so encouraging!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's a pity I haven't stumbled upon your blog earlier. There is so much insight here. I am also a single mom, but I don't have even half of your strength and wisdom. I hope things are ok with your son.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! My son is growing daily in patience, perseverance, faith, and more as he adapts to his disease. I wish I could take it for him, but we trust that God is working it all for good.
      You have a lovely blog! I'm following.
      Blessings,
      Lisa

      Delete
  7. There's no telling but I'd be willing to bet those men had a specific child in mind as they labored. They were fighting to save one of many. As a writer I sometimes forget about the one, while trying to save the many. May my heart be grateful today for the One...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, Shannon! Yes, they were trying to save a 14 year old boy, Leonard Thompson. He was the first patient to ever receive insulin. He was dying, and after his treatments he went on to live another 15 years. However, they knew they were also fighting for many people. The first requests for insulin were overwhelming, and of course, sadly many were denied until it became widely available.

      Delete
  8. This line gave me goosebumps: "Instead, we might ponder why there is anything good, since we are sinful". I have been writing about gratitude a lot lately, and your post is yet another poignant reminder about how much I have to be thankful for.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I did not know that diabetes could take away life so fast before. I'm glad to be living in times when it is not as fatal anymore. Learned something new today.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There will be alot of people I want to thank when I get to the other side. Your expressions of gratitude are inspiring! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete