Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28, KJV)

A story is told about the prime minister of France, who had become very ill and needed surgery. A specialist presided at his bedside, to whom the prime minister said, “Doctor, you will not treat me as you do those poor, miserable wretches at the hospital, will you?”

“Sir,” the doctor said, fire kindling in his eyes, “every one of those miserable wretches, as you call them, is a prime minister in my eyes.” This tale demonstrates how all of us must approach our fellow men.

The patient demands our time, skill, and very life. We must never forget or fail any person in need. We must not refuse to respond to any call from someone requiring help. This concept cannot be seen as an abstract rule or principle. George Bernard Shaw expressed this thought beautifully: “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.”

Being in the medical profession is a high and holy calling. The laboratory, the emergency room, and the operating room become as sacred as the pulpit– because God appears in each place.

The doctor should approach his work with a sense that it is holy ground. He must have a sacred reverence and concern for life, for the body, and for the physiologic and biochemical process of those patients in his care. He must associate himself and his work with the work of God.

Sometimes it becomes hard to perceive of some of the traditional clinical duties as being the work of God. Nevertheless, the surgeon’s duty must ever be one of reverence and respect for the body. It becomes hard to see God in the frustrations of paperwork, the annoyances of routine, and the smells and fatigue of the operating room. Still, one must remember that “God’s work” continues, even during mundane, monotonous, routine footwork, consisting of trudging along the hospital corridor, washing test tubes, taking histories, and doing physicals.

Drink of the delicious freedom of learning. Christ offers us complete hope: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5,KJV). Have you really tried the Lord?

– Virchel E. Wood, LLUSM class of 1960