Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalms 46:10, KJV

The 5-year-old boy lying in front of me looked just like the thousands of other children I had treated during my residency. Just three days prior, he had been running, playing, and acting like any other spirited child his age. Today, however, his parents brought him in because he was having difficulty breathing and was increasingly lethargic.

Initially, we thought that this was a simple infection; but his diagnostic tests were peculiar, and he was admitted to the hospital. Soon after, his health steadily declined and he coded repeatedly. I still remember vividly working furiously throughout the night to stabilize his illness and prolong his life. Inotropic agents, vasoactive drugs, ventilatory support, fluids, the entire gamut of medicines tried and failed. Eventually, despite our best efforts, he succumbed to his illness.

Soon after his death, as I sat by myself emotionally and physically exhausted, I could hear the pitiful crying of the boy’s parents; and I wondered what we could have done differently. I even audaciously questioned why God would take away the life of someone so young and innocent. It was then that a short passage of Scripture pervaded my thoughts. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, KJV).

It has been many years since my encounter with that little boy, and since then I have seen my share of death. And yet there has been no single tragedy during my profession as a doctor that has affected me more than the death of that small child. It was during that time that God humbled me by reminding me that no matter what, He, and He alone, is in control.

As clinicians, we are so proud of our abilities, our intellect, and our education. We quickly credit ourselves whenever we achieve success and just as quickly blame God when we meet failures and tragedies. We forget that our God is an omnipotent God who is, above all, sovereign. He is always in charge; and no matter what tragedy there is in life, we can always find respite in the promise given in Romans 8:28 (NASB): “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

We must also remember to “be still” – not only because we serve a perfect God who is infinite, but also because we as humans are finite and fallible. This is especially humbling for us as clinicians because we do not ultimately control our own destinies nor those of our patients. But as fallible as we are, isn’t it comforting to know that we serve an infallible God who is in control? This world may crumble around us; but we can rest on the hope of an immutable, sovereign God who loves us and is always there for us.

Benny Hau, LLUSM class of 1991, is medical director for the physician assistant program at LLUSAHP.