Vaccinations! We all, (or nearly all) want one. And what a blessing that these have been developed so rapidly. Time has been of the essence, so a process that might take years was done in months; still new vaccines are on the horizon, and the doctors are more knowledgeable about how to treat people in hospital with Covid 19.
During Roman times, many innovations came to the fore: aqueducts, concrete, bound books, newspapers, etc. While some medical procedures of that day sound odd to us, many discoveries and inventions were made. Most of these contributions to medicine came from the battlefield; indeed, war and battles always, even today, lead to more rapid advances in medicine. Other inventions such as arterial surgical clamps to curb blood loss or even simply disinfecting instruments in hot water before use, were all pioneered in the first century BC.
Under the leadership of Augustus, the first field surgery units were set up, and for these, stretchers were invented to bring the wounded soldiers to these units. The use of stretchers spread fast throughout the Roman Empire, all the way to the Holy Land, (remember the story of the man who was taken to Jesus on a stretcher, and they lowered it through the roof?) Roman military medicine proved so advanced at treating wounds and looking after the health of soldiers, that they tended to live longer than the average citizen despite constantly facing the threats of combat.
Today, in Western society, life expectancy is long, and we take it for granted that, with good nutrition and the NHS, we will see even more than our four score years and ten. Until last year. Like you, I cannot think of another time in my life when we have been so focused on health and wellbeing. Look again at some of the stories of healing in Jesus’ ministry. He was mobbed, many times, not because people wanted to hear him, but because he could heal them, make them whole again. Our WhatsApp groups have been filled with requests for healing; how good it is that we do not need to feel helpless, we can pray, we can support each other, we can share the burden in a small way.
We have all felt paralysed at times, overwhelmed and without the strength to face another crisis. If we surround ourselves with good friends, (even remotely on Zoom or by phoning) they can be like the four stretcher-bearers to us. They can bring us to a point where they will get us back on our feet… and together with Christ, we can all get up and walk again.