Entry Level Theological Truth [16]


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. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:21-22

Anesthesia has only been commonly available to human beings for about the last century and a half. Anyone who’s read about horrific battlefield hospitals in the American Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, or the American Civil War knows that patients often endured agonizing procedures without anything to dull the pain.

The phrase “biting the bullet” described actual practice in the absence of proper anesthesia. Those of us who live in the wonderful times of modern medicine ought to thank God for the advances that He has permitted scientists to make in diminishing human suffering during surgery and its aftermath.

As with many other things, Genesis demonstrates that God thought of general anesthesia long before His creatures developed the concept.


Industrious and Biblical Scots


To ease the pain of childbirth, the mid-19th century Scottish obstetrician James Young Simpson employed ether with mixed results. When he tried chloroform, he discovered that it was a much more satisfactory form of anesthesia for his patients.

When certain Scottish clerics balked at the idea of removing some of the pain of the birth process, affirming that it was God’s will for women to go through the unmitigated sorrow of labor, Dr. Simpson countered by pointing to the text at the head of this post.

The fact that the Almighty placed Adam under general anesthesia demonstrates that God does not delight in human pain. It is true that suffering is a consequence of sin and therefore is unavoidably present in the fallen world.

Nonetheless, one of the Lord’s biblical titles is Jehovah Rophi, “the Lord Who Heals” (Exodus 15:22-26.) Likewise, in the New Testament the Lord Jesus healed those who suffered from grievous and debilitating maladies.


Mercy in Action


Imagine Adam going to sleep in the garden, experiencing the world’s first surgery and awaking to find a magnificently suitable counterpart to himself for the enjoyment of living and the service of their Creator.

Eve’s entrance into Adam’s life would not be marked by pain. Instead, the first man could thank his God for meeting his needs and enriching his life all in a way that manifested Divine mercy.

This immutable God remains merciful today and tells us “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”. Wherever and whenever possible, Christians must imitate Him in ameliorating suffering and ministering to those who are in distress.


Photo credit: Military Medicine

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  1. Uel crothers


  2. Donald Henderson

    Industrious and Biblical Scots,
    my favorite kind!