Archive for October, 2012

Thoughts on Hippocrates – and the Greatest Physician Ever

October 17, 2012

A recent comment (which shocked me) about a young person who was given sleeping tablets after just one consultation stirred my memories of Kos and the day that I stood by the statue of Hippocrates in a park in Kos town. (By a strange coincidence on that day I also found two Israeli coins lying in that park close to the statue!) Often referred to as ‘the father of modern medicine,’ Hippocrates was born on the island of Kos somewhere between 430 and 370 BC. and made his living as a travelling physician. Today Hippocrates is mostly known for the ‘Hippocratic Oath,’ various versions of which are still taken by modern-day doctors all over the world.

Confidentiality and care of the patient were said to be most important to Hippocrates and it is also said that his medical care was gentle on his patients. Hippocrates was the first to argue that disease was not ‘a punishment from the gods,’ but rather caused by the environment, diet or living habits of his patients and today it is recognised that he made several major contributions to modern medicine.

But a few hundred years later and a few hundred of miles from the island of Kos, the Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world – the Greatest Physician and Counsellor that any individual could ever have the joy to meet! He cared deeply for His creation – and He still does; He cares for me – and He cares for you… “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1Peter 5v7)

Yet, even if we love Him and belong to Him, we are not immune to the prevailing conditions in this tainted world. I have heard it said that doctors nowadays seem to turn to their computers, the minute that their patient walks into the surgery! You may be just another face to them in their long day of listening to a catalogue of ailments – but rest assured that there is One who truly cares about your pain and for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Your tears are important to Him and your health is important to Him, whoever you are and whatever your situation.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4v23)

This sickness, we learn, was not confined to those who disobeyed God, or as a consequence of personal sin, or worse still – the sins of their parents. The disciples questioned Jesus: “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered with these words: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9v2&3)

Today we have “health, wealth and prosperity” cults telling us that we must have all three attributes. I wonder what they think of Timothy’s “oft infirmities?” (1 Timothy 5v23)… Or the fact that Jesus Himself “had not where to lay His head?” (Luke 9v58)

Today I praise Him and look to Him for the riches that count… those spiritual riches of contentment under all circumstances, for surely He is “the God of all comfort?” (2Cor. 1v3)

If you are suffering today, Jesus knows all about it: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4v15)

Praise God that when we as Christians suffer, we can have much more of a rapport with our fellowmen and women who have perhaps had the same health diagnosis as we have had…

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Cor. 1v3&4)

However, if you have never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, my prayer is that today you will do so, for when sickness comes your way (as it does for everyone, whatever their spiritual status) that Great Physician and Father of mercies will comfort you and carry you through to journey’s end, where you will be able to say with all who love Him: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Cor. 15v55-57

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Lagoúdi – a Small Koan Hamlet Untouched by Mass Tourism

October 3, 2012

“Blink and you’ll miss it” is an expression that the Irish give to some of their tiny villages when driving through them – and Lagoúdi could certainly be described as a “blink and you’ll miss it village.” But the tiny village of Lagoúdi on the Greek island of Kos will always have a special place in my memories because of its lovely atmosphere of peace and authentic ‘Greekness.’ I had this feeling that here was a place untouched by time and tourism. We spotted it one hot afternoon as we were driving towards the better known village of Zía, famous for its tourist shops and beautiful views. Pulling off the dusty road, we parked and strolled through the village street. (There is only one.) Cockerels and hens were roaming freely along the narrow little street and I spotted one of those elusive Greek ladies dressed in black retreat into her dwelling place. Numerous cats were slinking everywhere and after a while we heard some beautiful violin music carry, faintly at first, above the noise of the crickets. It was then that I saw him – the elderly Greek man playing a traditional melody, while he sat at the entrance to his home in the heat of the day. Enjoying the atmosphere and the music at that moment, I asked his permission to take his photograph and although he seemed to be a shy person, he readily agreed. I gave him a little ‘John 3v16’ Greek bookmark, for which he thanked me, as most of the Greeks so politely do.

The entire village seemed to be asleep (it was siesta time, after all) but for the two people we met. Another younger man sat outside his house with his feet up, contemplating his small part of the world with an expressionless gaze. He too, accepted a bookmark but how I wished at that very moment that we had more of a grasp of the Greek language, to talk to these people.

Now, on a rainy autumn day with leaves flying everywhere in Ireland, my thoughts turn to that lovely little Greek village and to the souls who live there. The village, we discovered, was dominated by the ‘Panagia Theotόkou Genesíou,’ a very ornate Greek Orthodox Church. In the heat of the day we strolled in there and took a seat in its quiet coolness. I noticed, too, a purring pregnant cat lying under one of the seats; obviously she needed to take refuge from the strong sunlight! I can still see, in my photographs and indeed, in my ‘mind’s eye,’ the magnificence of this building we discovered standing above the village: the beautifully carved candle sticks and rich chandeliers; the intricately carved seats, the shining marble floor and the stunning artwork – all in strange contrast to the simple village itself.

But in reality ‘the church’ is not a building, or even an organisation; the ‘Church’ are those believers who together make up ‘the Body of Christ.’ (Romans 12 v4&5). Does the Church have many members in this and other little villages on Kos and on other islands and on the mainland of Greece? Oh that those Greeks who profess to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, would reach out to their fellow countrymen and women – but how few really know the Lord and have been touched by the simplicity of the gospel…

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10v12-15)