Monday, July 13, 2009

Ultimate Healing

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. "
Deut 33:27

He worked beside us for years – pleasant, competent, a doctor like all others we knew. We used to chat with him in the doctor’s lounge, and we occasionally saw him on the tennis court or at church. His patients loved him.

One day we realized we hadn’t seen him lately. Someone said his house was for sale. Patients that we shared with him told us that he had taken a leave of absence from his practice and his partners were following them until he returned.

One day he was there again. He looked unchanged, except his wedding ring was gone, and he didn’t joke so much. He never talks about this time.

Sometimes, no matter what we do, our skills and the systems of the world fail us and we are left broken. Dr. David Allen says that, in these moments we need to look to seven principles of hope from the Last Supper.

1. Love – Jesus told his disciples, “I have loved you to the uttermost.” The doctor may prescribe, the surgeon may operate and the psychiatrist may listen, but only God’s love heals. No matter how hurt we are…regardless of how we are feeling, we are loved unconditionally by God. This means we have meaning, dignity, value and identity. Sadly many of us fear love because in the past, where we expected love, we received hurt. So now we may fear love because it may bring pain.

2. Communion – At the Last Supper the disciples were engaged in communion. Communion is the basis for community and communication. So often we doctors suffer alone. Pain is hard, but when shared it becomes a little easier.
Communion with persons (derived from the Latin word “per” = through and “sonare” = to sound allows us to benefit from the love, truth and beauty that God is sounding through them.
Communion with God creates interior silence and provides space for an inward table set for God and ourselves, e.g., David could say, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies...” (Ps. 23:5, KJV). Communion with God moves us beyond chronos time (daily time) into kairos time (God’s time). Commitment to God through kairos time removes the opaqueness of life and opens into the transparency of God’s love. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).

3. Resistance – When we are hurt, the world’s resistance towards us becomes evident. Our awareness of that resistance makes us angry, frustrated, depressed and sad. We need to open ourselves to these feelings, so they may have less of a hold on us. Remember that even as Judas was betraying Christ, God’s work continued in spite of him. Let us likewise realize that God’s work in our lives continues in spite of whatever resistance or problems we are facing. Let us not make idols of our failures or mistakes, but in God’s name journey on – knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.

4. Humility – At a certain point in the supper Christ humbled himself by taking off his outer garment. Humility is the healing grace. Humility is essentially facing our life as it is, facing our problems as they are, facing our situation as it is. As we accept the truth of life as it is, God’s love and grace come to bring healing. Humility opens us up to realize that we are limited and that we all are dependent on God’s providence. Without humility our problems may become a god who is so great that the problems become unsolvable. But once we learn through humility to bow our problems before God, God then accepts control and puts our problems in the right perspective.

5. Simplicity – At the Last Supper, our Lord, after taking off his garments and demonstrating deep humility, takes a basin of water. It is so important for us as doctors with our tremendous technological training and the power invested in us to recognize that life, at its heart, is simple. In fact, life itself is grace; if we just hold our breath a few minutes, we won’t be here. Do we need to have three offices? Do we need to have three homes? Do we need to hate the lifestyle we live? Have we tried to simplify our lives with a simple devotional period? At its heart, life is simple, and recognizing this helps us appreciate God’s grace and love in a deeper way.

6. Service – Once our Lord had stripped himself of his outer garments and obtained a basin of water, he began to wash his disciples’ feet. This is our finest picture of servanthood.

As Christian doctors, we see ourselves as servants, but when we hurt it is difficult to serve. We need to understand that even as our hurt immobilizes our service, Christ is still serving us–still washing our feet. And like him, even in our time of pain, we should seek to maintain our identity as servants. Serving others from within our pain is a commitment to follow the Christ who served others in his time of greatest pain. It seems to me that our Lord was teaching us that when we wash the feet of those we serve, we in some sense also heal our own hearts. In other words, healing is a mutual process. As we care for others we find ourselves being cared for. As our Lord served his disciples so we, too, have to learn to serve each other.

7. Transcendence – Our Lord told his disciples that he was leaving, but that after he left, he would send the Comforter. For the hurting doctor it is important to realize that God is still present, and therefore, there is hope. If we become our own god, we limit the resources that are available to us. Once we recognize that God is in charge, there are endless rays of hope. Transcendence means there is hope beyond our own ability and our own finite understanding.

After we have tried to do everything that we can do and even when there is nothing else we can think of doing, God’s love and grace still operate, bringing healing and hope.

Dear God,
I am broken---and neither I nor the world can fix me. Help me to know Your presence; help me to know Your love--- and give me the confidence that Your arms are strong enough to catch me as I fall. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment