Friday, July 19, 2013

Living without a Pancreas

People ask me, “Can you live without a pancreas?” The answer is ‘yes’—I'm alive, and I do not have a fully functioning pancreas. The pancreas, which lies behind the stomach, plays a vital role in digestion, releasing enzymes that break down proteins, carbos, and fats, “mixing” with your food to make it nutritionally useful. 

When I had surgery in February to remove a tumor from my pancreas, the doctors also removed a large slice of my pancreas—rendering it dysfunctional, which now requires me to take enzyme pills to do this ‘mixing.’ And if I forget to take my pills, no matter how much nutritious food I eat, it is not useful (and I could die from malnutrition).

The writer of Hebrews uses this idea of ‘mixing’ to give us a vivid ‘word picture’: “The word which they heard did not profit them (was not useful) because it was not mixed with faith” (4:2), suggesting that the development of faith is like the body's process of “mixing” enzymes with food. In short, when the Word we ‘hear’ [eat] is not mixed with “dynamic” faith [action/obedience], it is not useful. Doesn't this open up James' words: “Be doers of the Word, not hearers only…Can't you see that faith without good works is useless?...for just as the body is dead without [a pancreas], so also faith is dead without good works” (James 1:22; 2:20, 26).


  1. Very good word! ~RR

  2. Greg,

    I can testify to the truth of what it is like to receive God's Word(s) and not mix it (them) with faith. All of my life I have been a gatherer of information, much of which was good for a one-time use only. Among the fragments are the individual words that God has spoken to me personally, as well as His written Word, the Bible. Approaching sixty years of age you would think that I would have learned well how to process all of accumulated facts and figures, along with the spiritual truths, into some cohesive system that is beneficial, both to me as well as to others. That has been the case much less than I believe should be or should have been. Why? Because my knowledge was not mixed with faith. I missed out on one simple truth that could have enabled me to be profited as well as to profit others--I failed to ask the simple question to God: "what would You have me do with this knowledge?"

    Consequently, there is an enormous amount of stored-up knowledge that lies dormant within me simply because I prided myself in the accumulation of it all, but never found expression to dispense it appropriately. (In fact, I don't even know if I could explain clearly to anyone exactly how I have come to possess the degree of knowledge that I do have, but I still possess it, anyhow.) It is as if there has been a dam constructed to hold back the knowledge so that it is not accessible to those who could profit thereby. My expression--even simple communication exercises that normally don't take a lot of conscious thought--seems to have suffered in the process as well.

    While the above description does not mean I consider my entire life to have been pointless, I am made painfully aware of these issues, especially with those that I love and most want to effectively communicate the life inside of me. Your post today has reignited hope within that the Lord is not in the business of withholding good things (that is one key definition of "faith"): like my knowing how to express His truth so that people--including myself--can be set free.


  3. thank you for your transparency, Stan. Remember it was only a few weeks ago, I shared that I feel like I am learning impaired--always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth!! I do wish 'mixing' what we have heard (the Word) with faith was as simple as taking a couple of pills.!! But no, we must work, work, work out your salvation with fear and trembling knowing that He is the one willing us to do so and doing the work!