As a co-organizer of the 2018 AMM Conference, I was not able to fully participate as an audience member but did manage to catch a few titbits that struck a chord with me. One fleeting statement moved me, which the main speaker brought out a point in that we are not just mere health workers, but Christian health workers. The ‘Christian’ being the defining adjective of the noun it seeks to describe.
What does it mean to be a Christian health worker? In my stead, I ask, what does it mean to be a Christian doctor? How do I live my life as a Christian first, and by living out Christianity, the flavours of Christ would infuse into every part of my “doctoring”? How does that work? I have knowledge. I have skills. What more would Christ add to the formula? Or rather, where is God in health care?
God heals, we help
We begin with the very fact that He is the Creator, the Sustainer and the Master Healer. Exodus 15:26 (KJV) And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Attention needs to be brought back to the One that made all things, and the Maker has a way of living. Though we may deviate and bring trouble to our mortal bodies, there is hope; if not in this life, assuredly in the next.
Next, we unite our finite abilities with the One with infinite possibilities. Doctor Luke tells in the ninth chapter of his gospel that the twelve men who were chosen to working side-by-side with Christ were to be an extension of His grace; in preaching, healing, and demon-busting. On their journey, “and he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. Luke 9:3 (KJV)”. Not even a suitcase? Well, the implication being this; that they were to be fully dependent on the Father. They were not to rely on the power invested in them, but on the One who gave them the power and authority. It’s not just about what WE can do with OUR hands, it’s about the GOD who moves us to bless the ones around us.
So how do we put to practice God heals, we help? Well, quite simply, through prayer. As we pray, we allow the choice-respecting God to work in ways beyond our wildest dreams. We take the burdens and present it as Now Unto Him. Ephesians 3:20 (KJV) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Jude 24,25 (KJV) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
There were many instances from my time in the emergency department when I failed to pray. As a child lay on the resuscitation bed, I knew that he was at life’s edge. I prayed in my heart. Lifeless from the vehicular impact he sustained, I looked into his mother’s eye to break the bad news. Never have I met one who could be able to keep so well composed. On the outside it seemed that she was accepting of the situation, but it was apparent that a storm was raging inside her. The Spirit began prompting me to offer to pray for her but instead I let the opportunity pass.
I remember of another child, who came fitting from the elevated blood pressure he was experiencing. An infection in his kidneys altered his physiology in ways I’d never hoped to see. I prayed for wisdom. His mother sat by his bedside, eyes full of terror as she watched her child seizing. In my effort to curb my own fears, I forgot the fear that I myself had felt when I first witnessed a seizure and failed to display empathy towards the mother. The Spirit again prompted me to offer her words of comfort and empathy, but I let that the opportunity pass yet again.
An expecting mother walked into triage, complaining of no fetal movement for the past 12 hours. “Not again!”, I thought in my heart as I had only recently attended a perinatal mortality meeting. Into her second trimester, she would complete her kicks by 7pm everyday. But her counts stopped at 8 since 3pm the day before, and still none today. I feared the worst. Another opportunity for prayer came. As she was of another faith, I prayed in my heart, praying this child would live, not so that I would not have to attend another M&M meeting (though I thought selfishly), but that a precious life would not be lost. As I ended my prayer, I placed the ultrasound probe onto her tummy, and the baby leaped in her belly, and literally kicked my hand, twice! There was its heart, beating ever so rapidly, but not as rapid as the joy-filled mother.
There are so many other experiences and anecdotes that I could share but one common thread binds all of them together: God is the Healer and I am His helper. Even with the limitations of medicine, even when we forget to pray, even as we question God Himself while watching our patients suffer, God is still able to use us medical workers to heal and comfort His children. Our grasp can only hold so much, yet we must do the best we can with the little we have. So, what does it mean to be a Christian health worker? I leave this paragraph from Ellen White’s Steps to Jesus or you to ponder upon.
God’s heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our telling Him about them. We may take everything that troubles us to Him. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up the worlds and rules the universe. Nothing that happens to us is too small for Him to notice. Nothing in our lives is too sinful for Him to know about. No problem is so great He cannot solve it. He shares our joys and our worries. He hears every sincere prayer and is always ready to answer. “He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. God knows His people perfectly, and He treats each one as though there were not another person for whom He gave His dear Son. –Steps to Jesus 100.2
May we never forget to pray for our patients.