Diabetes and God’s Grace

Author: Helen Man
Translator: Kim Ng

The Rampant Diabetes

According to the 2022 report of the United Nations (U.N.), 537 million adults were diabetic (10.5% of the world’s adults). Since 1980, cases of diabetes have doubled already. The number might rise to 643 million (11.3%) in 2030 if this health issue is not handled properly.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 (childhood-onset diabetes): It usually begins in childhood. The pancreas does not produce insulin.
  • Type 2 (adult-onset diabetes): The patients’ bodies do not make use of insulin effectively. Obesity and inactivity are the main causes.

Warning the world about diabetes, the U.N. has officially announced November 14 as the annual World diabetes Day.

Diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, damage of blood vessels in the eyes, and permanent vision loss; severe cases require amputation due to nerve damage and poor blood flow. Acute complications of diabetes include hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis, and nonketotic hyperosmolar coma (very high mortality rate).

Remedy of Diabetes

Insulin was considered the greatest life-saving medication invention in the 20th century. Back in the 19th century, when dealing with diabetes, doctors became helpless and patients were hopeless.

Once the disease kicked off, the patient became thin and weak, and the urine would be frequent and filled with sugar. The patient would undoubtedly die within 1 to 2 years. The only way to control the disease back then was to fast from food, and in the end, the patients produced a large amount of ketone body metabolites due to the lack of insulin in the body, and most of them died of Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

A Glimpse of Hope

In 1889, two German scientists, Baron Joseph Von Mering and Oskar Minkowski who studied the visceral digestive organs, found that removing the dog’s pancreas would cause the dog to develop diabetes and cause its death. Therefore, scientists understand that the substance that lowers blood sugar is located in the pancreas. In 1910, Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Shafer, the British physiologist discovered that a chemical was missing in the pancreas of diabetic patients. He named it insula, which means “island”.

Dr. Frederick Banting (right) and his assistant, Charles Best (left)

On July 27, 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting, a young surgeon at the University of Toronto, Canada, and his assistant, Charles Best, successfully isolated the hormone insulin from the dog’s pancreas, which was one of the breakthroughs for the treatment of diabetes. In January 1922, in a hospital in Toronto, Canada, insulin was used for the first time to treat a critical patient with diabetes, a 14-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson. Within 24 hours, his high blood sugar dropped from 520 to 120, which is close to normal. Then, with the help of colleagues J.B. Collip and Dr. John Macleod, a pure insulin was produced, this time extracted from cow pancreas.

Insulin can treat diabetes! This good news spread all over the world immediately and thousands of patients were benefited. In 1923, two doctors, Frederick Banting and John Macleod, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. They shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Best and Collip, and sold the production rights for one dollar and said: “Let no one in the world suffer from diabetes without insulin treatment.” Such a selfless mind is awe-inspiring.

After a Century

It has been 100 years since insulin was invented. It has saved the lives of millions of people, and it is also a good medicine used by old and new patients. A few years ago, I went back to Toronto to visit my relatives and my alma mater – the University of Toronto, and took a tour to the medical school. In its lobby, there are bronze statues of Dr. Best and Dr. Benting, two scientists who have benefited the world. The small building where I worked daily with a grateful heart in the hospital was also named the Benting Building.

By God’s “grace of rebirth”, insulin has become an amazing remedy. Yet it’s essential for the patient to admit his disease and to take medication daily. Besides, doing regular exercises and watching diet is a good maintenance plan.

Medical Building, University of Toronto where insulin was discovered(Credit: Tonronto Library Public Archive

God’s Grace of Rebirth

Insulin is a lifesaver only for diabetes patients. Yet Jesus Christ’s salvation is the only lifesaver for everyone “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) since “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There’s no way that we can save ourselves from sins. Even all other religious leaders couldn’t escape death and the consequence of sins. How can they save you from sins?

A doctor doesn’t necessarily treat a diabetes patient out of “love”. Very unlikely would a doctor sacrifice his own life for his patients. However, Jesus Christ did. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christ has saved more than quadrillion souls from every corner of the world from sins.

Insulin is effective to treat the symptoms of diabetes when it’s being applied daily but it doesn’t treat the root cause. Only transplants can heal diabetes. One of my severely diabetic peers fatally passed out one day simply because he forgot to take his insulin shot.

In contrast, Christ’s salvation is: Once saved, always saved. A Christian is a new person because “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your life will be so drastically transformed that your character becomes admirable to all because you have been “made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).

You might be wondering about those who claim themselves as Christians but behave much worse than nonbelievers. Isn’t it fair for them to go to heaven? Of course, God knows who has truly repented and God says: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,

to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10). Even Jesus has sternly said: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Insulin is limited to helping patients in their current life but Christ’s salvation is good for the current and eternal life. While on earth, God’s Spirit lives in us to help us in times of suffering, sickness, and even at the edge of dying. In eternity, since we believe in Christ, our sins have been forgiven and we will not perish but have eternal life in heaven.

Such a life is both fulfilling and meaningful. There’s no more fear of death. You will live a victorious life filled with joy and hope. Are you ready to accept the salvation of Jesus Christ today?

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