My dear friend Andrea, whose father recently died after a long and arduous struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, shared this tragic story of another family’s confrontation with the challenges and failures associated with medical “advancements.” She called it a “mirror of what we lived through.”

These stories are important to tell. And important for us to hear and reflect upon as we each of us will face similar challenges in our lifetime.

They are especially important for people of faith to consider as the powers of medical technology to sustain life, prevent aging and even defeat death become increasingly available to consumers. As Joel Shuman and Brian Volck put it in their book Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine, “There is no apparent limit to medicine’s ambition to control the circumstances of human life and death by bringing them under human control. Billions of dollars are invested each year in research that has as its ultimate aim the elimination of contingency from the biological circumstances of human existence, and few people seem interested in asking whether or to what extent such an aim is appropriate for creatures of a providential God.”

It isn’t a diatribe against medical advancement, but a warning to proceed with caution. As people who belong to God, who have been freed from what one biblical writer called “enslavement due to the fear of death” and believe we are destined to return to God, how does our faith impact our consumption of medical services?