I always thought the scariest, and most stressful part of medicine would be me not knowing enough to adequately treat someone, or making a mistake with their management. This week, I realised that there is something worse – it is thinking about how a patient may die without knowing Jesus. I have worried about being unable to represent Christ well to the unhappy patient, and so prayed for my work, and for their health. Yet, this week, I also prayed in earnest for their salvation.
You can never please everyone, and every job has its caveats. A teacher still needs to discipline, a lawyer knows the outcome may not always favour every party and, as a doctor, I know I cannot always tell a patient what they want to hear. An unpleasant phone call with one patient got me thinking. I was upset that they were upset, that they had not appreciated my efforts in trying to help them, and that they did not want to get better. Travelling to band practice at church, I found myself thinking; this patient likely does not know Christ, their medical condition could very well kill them, and if this happened, they would be spending their eternity in hell. It was a shocking, upfront and confronting truth that I saw, though I did not immediately respond.
Band practice finished and someone shared a thought – “What are we doing for God now?” Suddenly, I thought to myself – “I don’t have time to be upset by this situation or person, I need to pray for them!” And so, driving home, I prayed. I have prayed for the salvation of my patients before, but this was somewhat different. It was an earnest, desperate cry to God, knowing that He can completely heal, completely transform, and completely restore people’s lives. He is the life-giver, the transformer of hearts and souls. He can restore the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. He can give eternal life, and He can help people to see His life. As I prayed, I felt a great love for my patient, a great desire to see them physically and mentally healed, and a great desire for their salvation.
Later, I reflected on the events of the day and thought about God’s character. If I felt this kind of anguish for a patient who did not want to get better, how deeply must God hurt for humanity who rejects His offer of salvation time and time again! How strongly must He desire to reach out and gather those who are broken, to bind them up and to heal them! Imagine God, looking forward to that day of complete restoration, when pain and sickness are all gone, and the glory of His kingdom reigns forevermore. Picture God, walking alongside each of us, enjoying the time spent building trust and relationship, watching and enjoying us as we grow more in the life He has given us.
My favourite part of medicine is walking a journey alongside my patient, and rejoicing together when they succeed or reach their goal. It is their loss of a couple of kilos, the birth of a child, a negative screening test, the freedom they achieve from pain, or from depression. It is the trust we develop, the hurdles we cross and the joy they experience in being healed; for me, the joy in seeing them healed. God walks this kind of journey with us every day, and He delights to see us live out the fullness of life as He has purposed for us.
[John 10:10] – “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Do not let your life be “stolen” or “destroyed” by the deceit of the devil, by his condemnation or by his temptation. Draw close instead to God who is Healer, Redeemer and the Giver of Life. Let Him show you the world through His eyes. Let Him walk with you and lead you. Let Him show you what it looks like to live in His presence every day.