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When Prayer Isn’t Enough

We traveled from Lake Havasu to Crestline yesterday, and on the way I heard a discussion of the very sad story in which a young girl reportedly died from a treatable type of diabetes because her parents did not take her to the doctor, but instead relied solely on prayer.

WESTON, Wis. —  The mother of an 11-year-old girl who died of untreated diabetes said Wednesday that she did not know her daughter was terminally ill as she prayed for her to get better.

Madeline Neumann died Sunday from a treatable form of diabetes.

Her mother, Leilani Neumann, told The Associated Press that she never expected her daughter, whom she called Kara, to die. The family believes in the Bible, and it says healing comes from God, but they are not crazy, religious people, she said.

There are varying opinions about this case. Some experts believe the parents were just ignorant and that they truly did not know how sick their daughter was. Others believe they are criminally guilty of child endangerment. I found it enlightening to note that the child had not seen a doctor since she was three years old.

I have mixed feelings about this incident. I believe in prayer. I believe in supernatural healing. But I have lived long enough to observe that not everyone who is prayed for is healed. That’s just a fact. Lay it down to lack of faith, sin or any other theory, but not everyone who is prayed over is healed. So in our lives, in our home, and in everyone I know who is associated with any churches, we pray for supernatural healing, but we also take our sick ones to doctors. There may be an isolated person or two who decides for himself to trust completely in the miraculous healing of God and to forego medical treatment, but I don’t know any. I have never known anyone who refused medical care for their sick child. So, in that regard I side with those who think these parents were negligent in the care of Madeline.

On the other hand, I respect the individual’s right to choose his religion, and I’m not comfortable with the state’s dictating what I do medically. However, I don’t believe in assisted suicide and I do agree with our government’s stance on that issue.

The deciding factor here is that Madeline was a child. If an adult wants to trust in God’s healing without any intervention by doctors, that should be his prerogative. But when a child is involved, I believe outside intervention is in order. A touchy situation, I know.

Today I pray comfort for the Neumann family, who probably meant no harm to their daughter.


My devotional blog is here.