I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:14, NIV

During my residency training in med-peds, I have encountered many individuals who are suffering. The vast majority of my patients have poor health as a result of self-inflicted injury or lack of self-care. I remember a patient I admitted to the hospital. He was 55 years old with a history of long-standing alcoholism, a recent stroke, and blindness from cataracts. He had been homeless for the majority of his life.

In his current state, he was helpless, bedbound, and frail appearing, with aged and wrinkled skin and a few patches of white hair on his head. In fact, he appeared to be in his nineties, even though he was 55. The patient in the adjacent bed was 96 years old, but looked younger and was independent in all aspects of self-care. I looked at the younger man with sadness and thought again how sin had degraded humanity far from the image of God we were modeled after.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving Creator and are modeled after His very own image (Genesis 1:27). I am always amazed at how masterfully God created us. The intricacy of the body at the cellular level, the way organ systems work in unity, and the added component of intelligence make us unique living beings. The greatest honor is that we resemble God in image.

Knowing this heritage, we should be expected to uphold our bodies with respect and care. When Jesus did his ministry on earth, He said, “I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NIV). Jesus wants us to be healthy for our happiness.

Satan has given society addictions and vices that take away our freedom; and they poison the mind, body, and spirit. Many times I care for patients who use drugs and alcohol and have complete disregard for their health. I ask myself at what point in life did some of my patients make the wrong decisions.

The usual medical guidance and interventions are oftentimes unsuccessful at helping them realize the detrimental effects of their actions. I point my patients to One who has the power to break the shackles of all their habits. At Loma Linda University School of Medicine, we are trained to incorporate the cornerstone of healing, Christ.

As Christian physicians, we must first realize that medicine is guided not only by scientific research, medicine, and surgery, but also that true healing comes from Christ Himself. Sometimes sharing the encouraging words of the Bible with a patient has much more impact than explaining the pathologic effects of lifestyle and uncontrolled disease.

There is always hope with Christ to make lifestyle changes. I am encouraged when my patients are able to take control of their life and illness. I rejoice when, after many office visits and prayers, my patients decide to quit smoking, alcohol, or drugs. As physicians, we have the privilege of working together with Christ, the Chief Physician, to restore the image of God to each of his sons and daughters.

Eric C. Chow, LLUSM class of 2009, is an internal medicine-pediatric physician in Waipahu, Hawaii. This story occurred during his residency in San Diego, California.