Q: Where is the [dividing line] between faith in God vs. [human medical] intervention?
Our modern medical technology often raises questions of conscience concerning how far to go and how much to do in curing disease or prolonging life. I seriously doubt I will be able to settle this subject satisfactorily in one response, but it is something I've given some thought to.
First, permit me a little personal rant: How you and I view our physical bodies and the care we give them is pretty unprecedented in human history. There's never been a time when people welcomed sickness and death, but reading the Bible, it becomes clear that our modern ideas about living disease and pain-free are pretty new and radical from the attitudes of people in days gone by. Relatively speaking, today we are virtually obsessed with health-related concerns and sustaining what we call "quality of life." Every news program contains a "health" segment and health-monitoring electronic devices are selling like hotcakes. (I don't even want to know what we spend on medication in the USA but I'm willing to bet it's higher than the gross national product of some countries!) Health-related talk is at a fever pitch and we have become a nation of hypochondriacs.
Okay, I'm done.
Only God knows where faith begins and ends and where doubt takes over. One man consults a doctor and yet maintains a complete trust in the Lord, and another man may never darken the door of a clinic but still have ZERO faith in God's ability to heal. It's very tough to judge another person's heart and God has made it clear to me on many occasions that I'm not qualified to do so.
I go to doctors and take medicine, but my hope is not in those things. I believe God has total control over the day of my death, and almost daily I offer Him lordship over my aging body since it belongs to Him in the first place. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Even when I take a pill I do so with prayer saying, "Lord, this pill was prescribed by a human doctor who is fallible and prone to mistakes. Only You are perfect and truly know what's going on in my life and body. So I put my faith in You and I trust You to cause this pill to do what it's supposed to do. Amen!"
I don't believe that using modern medicine HAS to be a breach of faith. It may certainly be for someone—and again I'm can't judge that—but it doesn't have to be. (For an example of someone who did place all his hope in doctors, read about King Asa in 2 Chronicles 16. He started out as a good king, but toward the end of his life this is what they wrote about him:
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign [King] Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12
Notice that God's Word doesn't chastise Asa for consulting doctors...but rather for NOT seeking the Lord's help. His error was placing ALL his hope in man, which is something God absolutely does NOT want us to do.
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? Isaiah 2:22
But here's the crazy part: even though God tells us not to trust in man...He doesn't forbid us from using man. Even God uses men to get things done. When the nation of Israel went into the Promised Land under Joshua and began to fight against the Canaanite nations, God used the men in the Israelite army to do the fighting—while at the same time He told them NOT to trust in their own ability to win their battles, but rather to trust in Him.
So think about it: why did God have those soldiers get ready for battle? He told them repeatedly that the battle belonged to the Lord, so when they strapped on their swords, why wasn't that an act of rejecting God? Why did they even bother to grab their shields and bring their bows and arrows? Wasn't the act of bringing those weapons to the battle a breach of faith? No it wasn't—because God chose to USE THOSE MEN to get His will accomplished.
In the same way, God can and does use doctors to get his will accomplished. Does He have to use them? Of course not!—just like He didn't have to use the army of Israel. But instead He CHOSE to work His will through them. I believe God can choose to work His will through doctors and medicine too. He's not limited by anything.