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 about gratitude the way a tsunami teaches a field about 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)