Lean not on your own understanding

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

As physicians, we are given an excellent, broad-based education and, when specializing, more focused training. As we leave internship or residency, we realize that we have been exposed to multiple mentors and have been able to glean what we consider to be the best methods and techniques from each. We may be convinced, because we are able to combine and adopt the best from each, that we may become better than any of them.

Confidence– as a result of one’s education, training, and abilities– is essential. But we also need an attitude of humility and dependence on God for direction in making decisions, for technical and surgical skills, and for compassionate relationship with patients family. This dependence is crucial for the outcome that God desires to give in every encounter with patients and family.

God invites us to ask in His name for outcomes that are according to His will. In personal devotions, we may seek the Lord for these blessings. We may also pray with patients and families before surgical events, as well as in times of crisis and prior to decision-making.

Early in my practice, I was hesitant to ask patients if they would like me to personally pray with them prior to surgery. I then decided to give patients that option in a written statement on a card given to them with pre-operative instructions. If they want me to pray with them, they check “yes” on the card and hand it to the receptionist when checking in for surgery. With this method, there is no awkward discussion about prayer and no risk that the patient may say yes to just please the physician.

Using this card method, I’ve found about 80 percent of my patients ask for a personal prayer just before surgery. I pray for judgment, caring, and skill, as well as for healing without complication. It strengthens my faith to see so many people affirming their faith by asking for prayer.

The Lord has blessed me as He has blessed my patients as a result of these prayers. These prayers also initiate a spiritual connection with the patient. Many times patients will ask to also pray after I pray, and some reassure me later that they pray for me on an ongoing basis. The most touching example of this was the report of a mother of two pre-visit, “The girls pray for you every day.” I know that I have been blessed beyond measure by prayers such as those from believing patients.

What a privilege we have as physicians to be instruments in God’s hand to bring healing, comfort, or hope to His children, and to acknowledge and acknowledge that God is directing our paths as we put our trust in Him.

– Howard V. Gimbel, LLUSM class of 1960

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