Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. ~ 1 Peter 4:10, NIV
Mrs. Santiago and her husband came to see me in my office for her to be evaluated for advanced bladder cancer and to discuss a radical cystectomy and urinary diversion. Her physical condition and prospects for major surgery were complicated by multiple medical problems.
They both knew that she was in a difficult situation. She had 16 grandchildren and she and her husband lived for their family. The matriarch of her family, at only 59 years of age, she was not prepared to leave her family behind.
We had a candid discussion about the gravity of her situation and the potential options, as well as the risks and complications of each one. She was anxious to go ahead with surgery as soon as possible and told me that she had a strong faith in God and was putting her trust in Him to lead my healing skills in giving her best care possible. The surgery went smoothly, and she was discharged home sooner than expected.
However, over the next two weeks she developed a superficial wound infection. Although caring for this infection would be difficult, it was decided that it could be treated at home. Her husband was a receptive pupil for teaching. He repeated used the illustration that he would be “an instrument” to extend our knowledge for his wife’s care and that he could learn anything we were willing to teach him. He emphasized that he would do whatever we asked him to do.
Quickly, her wound developed granulation tissue and closed as a result of the aggressive dressing changes and care administered by her husband. Given all of the medical barriers she had against healing, it was a remarkable recovery. It was made possible by her husband’s meticulous and timely care. I was delighted with her progress, and she told me that her prayers had been answered and that her faith had been justified.
I am reminded that we should be as humble as Mr. Santiago and be willing to allow our “gifts” to be used as instruments for God’s healing touch. I paused from this encounter and reflected on the thought that the knowledge we have acquired and the talents we have developed represent a powerful force for good in this world.
Simply, this force is the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, and it can and should represent the best of what our faith has to offer. It is our obligation as teachers in the Loma Linda University School of Medicine to live it, teach it, and protect it.
–Herbert Ruckle, LLUSM class of 1986, is chair and a professor in LLUSM department of Urology. He and his wife, Carol Lau, LLUSM class of 1978-B, live in Redlands, California.