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Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
December 30, 2021 5:00 am

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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December 30, 2021 5:00 am

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who's faced many difficult challenges including serving in the Iraq War, removing deadly brain tumors, and experiencing the loss of a son. He shares lessons he's learned as he's sought answers to life's toughest questions while holding on to his faith in God.

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Tony really struggled in his marriage and his wife seemed incompatible and headed for divorce and together through to work it out go to distant on Jim Daly this season. Help us give families hope and when you get today. Your donation will be doubled donated Dr. Lee Warren describes the intensive care unit is a place where desperation and hope slug it out to see who the champion will he says that beeping monitors, hissing ventilators, humming IV pumps push their notes into the year mingling with the steel hints of iodine, bodily fluids and waning faith today on Focus on the Family you'll hear from Dr. Warren about his own personal struggles with God through many trials in the hospital and also outside it still offer hope to you to endure through your trials today. Thanks for joining us your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. What a vivid and accurate depiction of the ICU ward, something that Dr. Warren faces every day in treating his patients that Dr. Warren was our guest on a broadcast earlier this year that really spoke to our listeners interviewers. It was one of our top programs of the year.

Dr. Warren is operated on deadly tumors and people with serious brain injuries as a surgeon before starting his practice in Nebraska. He helped to triage seriously wounded soldiers in Iraq is also experienced, in his personal life and were going to cover some of his amazing stories in his award-winning book. I've seen the end of you, he's already face more life-and-death situations than most of us will face in our lifetime. God has given him the strength to do it and we can grow spiritually as we glean from his stories about how fragile life truly is. And this was such a deep conversation about the essence of life and death, and as you said Jim Dr. Warren's book was the winner of the Christian book award for biographies and memoirs. So congratulations to Dr. Warren for that. The title again is, I've seen the end of you neurosurgeons look at faith, doubt, and the things we think we know will encourage you to get a copy of that book from us here of the links are in the show notes or call one 800 K in the word family, let's go ahead and join the start of the conversation with Dr. Lee Warren on today's best of 20, 21 Focus on the Family Dr. Warren, welcome to Focus on the Family, thank you. I'm so grateful Lisa and I both so grateful to be here with me ask you kicking this off this is really interesting content in order to get into it you were raised in a Christian home, your parents gave you that foundation of faith that you had a relationship with a friend.

I think an elementary school that kinda shook and shaped your world what happened yes that I don't think I realized it until later, but in the third and fourth grade had a young girl that was ahead so I had a crush on Conan in the book and your right foot third yeah for you in session at my first fistfight over her, which I won't tell you if I want my books associate she at the end of one school year.

I just had this vivid memory of her driving off in the bus and waiting to buy my hopes were fine you for seeing her next year and then later that summer my mom told me that she was sick and she might not be back at school and turned out she had a pediatric brain tumor and I remember late in the school year. She came back to class and just look like a different person. She didn't have her personality.

She was swollen from what I know now was sterilizing medication and radiation treatment and all that she had a ring on and just wasn't the same little kid and then she died later that year and you know as I as I grew up and became a doctor and look back on all that it did just dawned on me. At some point that my interest in neurosurgery probably started around the time went. When a little kid can be taken away from you by something happening in the brain and I member the talks I have with my mom and how afraid I was in for the first time somebody my age could be sick. I didn't know that at that time that somebody my age could die and I remember how mom always told me that Faith would get me through those things and call my fears as I think that was probably a foundational moment for me in becoming a physician and maybe even a nurse.

Let's move to your service.

Thank you. By the way, for serving in the military and at same time. I mean you saw such trauma because you saw all of the backend of warfare. Those men and perhaps even some women who were injured from their service and that describe that for those of us who will never be in that environment. One most surprising things for me.

Obviously growing up in the United States and practicing United States with an endless, limitless resources right so here we are in a tent hospital in the middle of the war and we didn't have the resources and so we had to think about every drop of blood in every tool that we use in all the saints differently than we do back here but also we took care of civilians and we took care of the enemy and we took care of injured insurgents of what went on an Iraqi insurgent gets injured on the battlefield. American medics fly them to hospitals and take care that is amazing and most people probably don't know that our American medical core takes care of everybody gets hurt. And so for me it was an eye-opening experience of taking care somebody who had done this bad thing and blown up all of our soldiers were also trying to save them to learn about mercy, and not just about justice, and countless things.

It was a really solidified me as a trauma surgeon and this is as a human being. I think that experience and even there in in your barracks in that area where you operated you had shelling and things that were going on and it was close to the action that we were mortared every single day that I was in theater hundred and 20 days to order every day every day you specialize in brain tumors GBM I believe is the acronym let's just let the listeners here what that is what you tend to face with your patients every day so there's a brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme that we shorten thankfully to GBM is easy to say and it turns out to be the deadliest really the deadliest form of human cancer. The problem with glioblastoma is you really can't cure it and set the whole brain justice has to become cancer and so for the last 40 years or so, the survival rate really hasn't changed is about 15 months.

If you have that diagnosis and we take the tumor out and give you radiation and chemotherapy be had about 12 to 15 months. Almost all the time. The five year survival rate is very close to zero in the 10 year survival rate essentially is zero old sort of joke that if you have a tenure survivor. He probably misdiagnosed them and so had this experience as a as a Christian who was also a scientist, I would see a scan really before I ever met you as a patient. I would look at your images and see that brain tumor and I would say to myself I seen the end of the analyst can happen to you say that again because this was profound. See the end of the guy I just could see it in my mind like it was a movie playing and I've seen the end know what's can happen. I know what the biopsy can look like another conversation were about to have. I know what the pathologist going to tell me I know when you're when you get chemo when you get sick when your hair to fall out when you stop eating.

I know when it's gonna come back and I know when you die and I can see it in my mind like it's true already and so I struggled then because I also know that as a doctor you are better serving your patients if you give them hope and if you help them maintain hope because you have a higher much higher quality of life and you go through everything better and even had a better outcome in every way we can measure it. If you maintain hope and so here I have a situation where I don't have hope for you and the Bible tells me God can cure you, and I don't really believe it because he never does it with this tumor and so I'm supposed to sit down and try to doctor you even if I can't cure you, and what I do and that that's really the question I was struggling with as a physician, I decided to write this book why that's such on point and I'm sure you hear from Christians who may be critical of you saying, well, God can work miracles and you need to trust in God and your Christian Lee. How did that begin to synthesize a night.

I understand it.

I mean, you're the hard scientists, but a man of faith. So these worlds were colliding. I can only imagine the conflict in you they were not you not started having to do what scientists do, decided to study people and how they handle hard things and how they manage to to get through them or not get through them and I started noticing that the common theme of people who do well even if they diet seems to be that they find something to hope for. And often times I was a resurrection and in the afterlife and and all the things Jesus offers us to start understand what Jesus means in John 16 when he says I'd come and give you life even though you die and if you believe in me you have life and will never die and so I started seeing people who could find that in the darkest moments and it gave them something to hold onto and they had a better outcome, even if they died from their tumor and I decided what makes sense for me is to doctor people with things that will help them even if I can't fix the problem and I would think you know being a man of faith and a scientists.

The reality is this. Life is just this moment is right for us and there's something eternal ahead but we cling to this is that this is that right track, and that's why we have fear and we have doubt we maybe have hopelessness and that's the great news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that there something beyond this contract. This is in it. Let me ask you just to get some of the stories of your patients out of your wonderful book.

I've seen the end of you. You talk about patient that you called Samuel and what was his story with GBM and what did you see so Samuel is the guy that is the typical patient blessed him. He's a good guy does it all right. It's got a strong family goes to church. Now it seems like cancer. It's those guys right that the nice guy and he's driving to work one day and has a seizure on his birthday Rex's car almost wrecked his car and finds out that he's got a brain tumor and I come to meet him and take him to surgery and it turns out to be a glioblastoma and and he just exemplifies this solid belief and been walking out faith in Jesus Christ where he never wavered like a sad he stressed because he doesn't want to lose is why you leave his wife and his little kids. But he never gives up hope and he's just this beautiful example of what it means to really walk out your faith in Jesus Christ, so that conundrum is bad things do happen to good people and good things do happen to bad people on the right of the rain falls on all of us. And so it's just a filter problem that we have what we would pick out the ones we want to be sad about.

We don't pay attention to the other ones but but but everybody has trouble with this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and today our guest is Dr. Lee Warren's book I seen the end of you neurosurgeons look at faith, doubt, and the things we think we know is an excellent resource. If you're grappling with some of these larger questions of life, stop by or give us a call if you'd like that book 800, the letter a in the word family Dr. Warren, you mentioned Joey patient a moment ago. I do want to hear his story.

What what was Joey about what did he show you Joey not be the favorite person that Lisa and I illicitly surrender office. Though we ever took care of the judge this guy. Typical.

When you meet him, his criminal. He's in here he was fighting a DEA agent got hit in the head and knocked out and skull fracture blood in his brain and had to take him to the operating room and in the midst of the blood clot. There's a brain tumor. The denial he had and so that seems like a fortuitous thing for him because he had he not had the head injury from being a bad person right be in a fight with the cop. He wouldn't have known he had this benign tumor until it became a cancer most likely so could to save his life right and I given this news. That to me felt like good news. Have we found this early stage brain tumor and took it out to be okay. Most likely, and he still mad about it.

Turns out Joey's had a bad life is parents of one of his parents died, the other abandon them. He's been in jail is how come the hard times of drugs and and he just had a really rough life and he doesn't see anything good out of anything for him. It's just another example of God hates him. There may be guys not even real and and the course of cake taking care of Joey.

He had a grandmother and a sister who never gave up on him and a chaplain who befriended him and ultimately, even though his cancer came back. I want to get the whole story. Why don't people to read the book but basically the last year of Joey's life in which is tumor came back he lost his strength and he ultimately passed away. He described that is the best year of his life and the reason was he fell in love he found Jesus. He found hope he believed he was going to get to see his grandma again when he went to heaven reconciled with his sister made amends for a lot of things in line through and he found the purpose and meaning of his life and found happiness. Even while he was dying, and so they just exemplify the idea that your life is not about the number of your days is about the quality of your days is about what you do with them and how you feel during them and he was able to show me how to separate circumstance from a motion and that's that turns out to be the key for how you find happiness and hope no matter what you're going through. Let me ask you in the book you specifically talk about that dilemma you've touched on it but to be more specific you would say you would see the end of your patient and know what lies ahead for the minute kind of put a contradiction how to pray for your patience and describe that I can feel it, but it was so.

I used to think that prayer was about telling God what you wanted and he either said yes or no and in the more so the score of how many yeses and how many notice was a measure of how much he loved it. I sort of thought that an I really learned it from Pastor John.

My prayer is not about bending God's will to years of spending your will to his. And so, as I evolve through learning how to take care of these people who were going to die no matter what I did, I learned that helping them come to peace with that helping them find a new way to look at the rest of the days that they had a new way to make sure that their families were okay that their marriages were okay that their legacy with two kids were okay was teaching them how to pray a prayer of asking God to fill them with hope to fill them with new way to to see the things that were going through and so I was learning how to Dr. people when I couldn't save them. That's good, that's then you don't have that sense of futility. I would think that you know this is our right and there's there is hope.

At the end of this after Samuel died. When your patience.

There's a chaplain friend of yours who gave you some great spiritual insight and advice. I think all of us will benefit from that. What did that chaplain say to you, so Pastor John a call them in the book just basically help me understand that somebody dying isn't the end of their story.

Like you want when you look at the overall number of promises in the Bible. All of them point to hope for a future resurrection writing and it can be hard to see truth in those promises. When you read one like Romans 828 and it says that God can work everything for good. Say how can he work Samuel dying and leaving behind two little kids for good. How can that be and he'll say something to me like will now you're going to for the rest of your life you're in a Dr. people better. You can help people see and find hope in the darkest moments of their lives in a better way and that'll turn out to be good that'll turn out to be a good part of Samuel's legacy down and so the chaplain really just helps me to help me to reorient my thinking away from lost main Scott doesn't care. Death means God isn't paying attention or doesn't doesn't want to hear your prayers and actually guys always always doing the thing that's good for us.

In the end, and is not about how long you live. Some people might be thinking okay well Dr. Warren's Nero surgeon even though he went to the war you know what is above the fray of life, but you have had it like right in the bull's-eye. You lost your son describe those circumstances. What was going on and what happened to your boy so Mitchell was this beautiful kid brilliant, witty, fun, love Jesus, like many teenagers he had a couple rough years and and got kind of confused about some things and we were as he went off to college that left couple years where we were as close as we had been and he was trying to figure out his own way and nine July 2013, he started calling more and we were starting to feel more hopeful and then our church does this 20 Meyer church in Alabama did this 21 days of prayer event every start of every school year were you really focused and pray for the kids and pray for your family and all his things and and on the morning of August 19, my phone rang and Mitch called and he we had this long talk long as home.

It had been forever and he said I don't want to come home back in school.

I realized where I need to be and what school I had this great open and he said he loved me and I said I loved him. His last words we respect each other and on the morning of August 20.

The prayer that morning was from the youth pastor at the church about praying for your kids and how God was going to give you victory in your in your child's lives and so we were just filled with the cements open and not later that day. Had he was stabbed to death, and died. We don't even know the circumstances, the police never really could figure out what happened to boys died in that house that night and their best friends and we don't really know in salute week we were sort of taken from this place were we thought it was all gonna be okay only been praying so hard for so long and it seem like God was answering our prayers and then he was gone and it was just this huge chasm. Why would something you it's one thing if it if you didn't think it was gonna be okay and something like that happened, but it was worse for us a thing because we had so much hope). I felt like God played a trick on us, and in so tight I it was also ironic because I was in the middle of writing this book about how to help people in hard times and and all of a sudden I went from observing them to be one of them that passes when Isaiah says here in the furnace of suffering that this will we were in so I really for a little bit wasn't sure what I believed anymore just wasn't sure that God could really let something like that happen in an be who he said he was. That's powerful and you know my brothers had that experience, he lost his son to cancer when he was young and you know I said is there a day that goes by, you think of Bobby and he said no every day and I think people again. You would think, given the processing that you are doing trying to figure out where these patients are dying. I don't know how to pray for them. I'm a scientist and I could see that a new year. Very logical in your thinking and then have this happen, which turns everything upside down.

The things you thought you knew the things you thought you were resolving with God were right back in your face. Did you have that moment. I mean, I tend to be more of an emotional person.

This way work I be saying, Lord, what you doing why this did you have that kind of moment.

I did of course I did badly lease on Albury parents think you would. You couldn't be truthful if he said he didn't doubt God and some of those moments and I started going back to what I knew she was reading the Bible every morning having a process that I follow through and I would read something and I wouldn't believe it. At the same time, and I started feeling with that guy Mark Tecumseh Jesus and says, I believe, help me in my unbelief right but somehow I knew that if there wasn't a resurrection of the promise for the resurrection wasn't true then I didn't have anything to hope for is the idea that I could see my son again some day was enough for me to be able to put my pants on the next day in and try to go my cup of coffee and make that they happen and one by one every day some little bit of grace would happen. Somebody would call it just the right time were virtually damn Bible Gateway will pop up and it would save the Lord is close to the broken hearted some 3418.

Where would say something like that that verse were Paul says if we don't have the hope of the resurrection, then we are to be pitied more than all men yeah that's right see that and so passed that I had this one moment crystal-clear moment. I can see in my mind where I saw the promises God says that all Scripture is true.

Another one that says it's impossible for God to lie in. So if those two things are true, then the hope of the resurrection has to be true to, and therefore all those other promises have to be true and I just decided Lisa and I sit down one day and we decided that we believe that we were to start just pressing into it and every day something happened somebody called something, something occurred and had just enough manna just another power to get through that day and over as the days went by better didn't go I like your brother Bobby doesn't go away, but you start that and that the light starts coming back on because you believe it's true.

And then it starts showing you that it's true and this will happen for us.

When I hope that's the hope that people are hearing right now let me in here because this is the question I mean when you look at all this. What word of encouragement do you have for the people listening right now that are going through so much they might have the prodigal child they might have the tumor, they might have some other diagnosis that brings mortality right into focus for them and maybe they haven't done the right thing said the right things perhaps are not drug dealers but maybe they haven't lived up to their spiritual potential in Christ, what advice you have for that person that devastated and hasn't found the rails to run on well and I would say this, it did, it doesn't matter what you do for a living or how much money you make or how much influence or power over status you having in this life. Because if your kid dies or if you find out you have a brain tumor you're the same as everybody else in that moment. You are a broken human being and the height from which you fall. If your life is built on all those things on the need to have good circumstances or the need to have a high income earned the need to have status or whatever. Then when you lose those things because your body doesn't work anymore because you can't find your way to get to work. As your child died and you can't put your pants on that day you lose everything.

So what I would say to people is those aren't the things that should define your life because they can be taken from you the things you should define your life, is the fact that somebody loved you enough to die for you and that their real hope of your life is and is and what Jesus said would make your joy complete, which is to trust in him because when those hard moments happen. You will find that it's true that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and you will find it is true someday that God can work things for good as he did for us. I started riding and blogging and podcasting 2014 as a way to communicate my family and that she began to be shared around the world and all that in my blog and podcasts and stuff started becoming something we would hear from other people about and in the year since we lost Mitch two different people have written to me and said they didn't commit suicide because of something I wrote or settle my podcast so so friend out there listening. Your hope cannot be on things that can that you can lose or that can be taken from you.

Your hope has to be in something that's beyond what you can see right now and that's Jesus, it's up. He said the company were all broken people.

That's the reality of this life.

No one's going to live forever. Everybody hit that pit in the road, even if things are sailing along right now, which makes it verse that you mentioned a couple times so true that he's close to the broken hearted. I love the next part and saves those crushed in spirit and that might be the whole purpose of what we walk through in this temporal life so that we can have eternal life with him.

That's right man, Dr. Warren, this is been fantastic. I so appreciate the fact that you labored through the pain, emotional pain to write this book. I've seen the end of you neurosurgeons look at faith, doubt, and the things we think we know beautifully done and so full of great content to make us think that what this life is truly about. Its been a privilege to have you here with us not to be with you. Just thinking what a powerful conversation with Dr. Lee, Warren. As we noted this is one of the top programs of the past year on Focus on the Family John, let me also add that for you the listener the viewer if you're grappling with weighty issues about life and death, and you don't know where to turn. Please give us a call. We have people caring people to help you talk through this issue. Whatever it is you're facing, and we been doing this for over 40 years. So you're not gonna surprise us and we want to be here with you, Karen. Christian counselors will call you back and talk with you and give you some direction on what next steps you might be able take that.

We also have Dr. Warren's wonderful book. I've seen the end of you let us know if we can send that to you and right now if you can make a donation to the ministry for gift of any amount will send you a copy of this book as our way of saying thank you on behalf of those families that you're going to help through Focus on the Family or phone call away if you need that to free consultation with the counselor, or wish to donate organs. Dr. Warren's book number is 800 K and the word family or stop by the episode notes will have the links right there for you on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family plan to be with us next time. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers. I was so died I had reached my breaking point. I was desperate for a shred of hope. So I called the hope restored team.

It Focus on the Family they they listen to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me and my wife to attend one of their marriage intensive's for couples in crisis and they prayed with us.

They help me believe that my marriage could be saved agreed to go but was skeptical that anything could help the whole environment was so safe and nonjudgmental, high-tech and open up as we work with the counselors.

Both of us still have work to do in her marriage but for the first time in a long time we have hope again Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage with over find out which program is right for you and hope

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