And we know that in all things God works for the good of the who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose ~ Romans 8:28, NIV

As I progressed through my training, I soon learned that not all healthcare institutions have whole-person care as their goal. Like animals, patients were herded through the system. During my nightly devotions, I prayed many times for the Lord to use me to reach my patients and let them know God cares for them.

It was in the evening, after a long day in the operating room with the typical rush of patients and procedures, that the Lord gave me an opportunity. I knocked on the door of 3326. I very pleasant African American female greeted me. She was sitting on the hospital bed. Her large round reading glasses quickly came off when she spotted me. Wearing the typical hospital gown, she was half covered with blankets. It almost seemed as if my patient had been crying. Her diagnosis of breast cancer must still have been fresh. It was then that I realized what this was. This particular moment in time was a “ball catching” event.

Moments like these present to a physician every day. During my training at Loma Linda, this scenario was described to me in a football analogy. Imagine with me that you are playing football, and a perfect pass is coming at you. Looking up at that beautiful spiral coming down at you, your only focus is “just don’t drop the ball.”

Back in the patient’s room, I weighed this emotional problem in my head and commenced with the easy part. Behind my medical mask, I discussed expectations for the upcoming surgery, risks and benefits, and some of the complications. When I was about to leave the room, there was a pause in the discussion. During that pause, I asked God what I should do. “God,” I silently prayed, “give me wisdom and strength to help this woman right now, emotionally and spiritually.”

God did not take this request lightly. I noticed a little Bible lying open to the book of Romans. God inspired me to use this moment. I told her that I also was a Christian and liked to read the Bible because it comforted me in hard times. Then I gave her an assignment – to read Romans 8:28. After walking out of the room and shutting the door, it hit me: I had no idea what Romans 8:28 said! I vowed to look it up as soon as I had access to a Bible.

What blessed words to comfort someone the night before surgery. It is truly amazing how God works, if we only stop to ask Him. As you read this today, I hope you will find encouragement to identify and give strength during times when patients have deep emotional needs, and to consult God daily in prayer for wisdom and guidance. Last, but not least, remember the analogy and “just don’t drop the ball.”

Merlin Wehling, LLUSM class of 2003, lives in Kearney, Nebraska, with his wife, Chere.