Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. (Lk 15: 30)
In the San Francisco Bay area a group of eight doctors gathered for a time of fellowship and Bible study. They had planned to discuss how their Christian faith might make a difference in their lives. As they gathered, word came to them that the two year old daughter of a local community family had fallen into a swimming pool and drowned. She was alive, but unconscious, having been without oxygen for several minutes. She was not expected to recover.
Their agenda changed immediately. Prayer took precedent and prayer became action. Four of the doctors who knew the girl left the meeting and drove to Children’s Hospital where they comforted the devastated parents the best they could. Then they gathered at the little girl’s bedside. They did not discuss what the course of medical treatment should be. They did not take the child’s blood pressure or check her pulse or adjust the IVs.
Instead, they touched the little girl with their healing, helpless hands and reached for God. They prayed for her and their world was transformed.
Sometimes we as doctors get confused. We look at all of our skills and all our hard work and begin to believe that it is all up to us. If we are skilled enough, our patients will do well. If we are not, they will die. To some extent this is true. Our patients tend to do better if we do a good job and tend to do poorly when we practice poorly. But, as doctors of faith, we must never forget that God is in the room, that God has a plan and God has the power to complete his plan in the lives of the patients we serve. There are times when the power of our prayer for our patients overwhelms the limitations of our skills. Every patient we see is loved by God and every patient we touch fits into God’s great plan to redeem the world. How many times do we move from room to room and patient to patient and never invite the Great Physician to join us in our work?
When they placed their hands on the little girl, something spiritual happened to those doctors as individuals and something communal happened to them as well. As they drove away from the hospital that night, they felt strangely alive, strangely at peace and strangely one with each other. Six days later there came an update on the little girl. She had awakened and was sitting up in bed, eating a lollipop and asking her Dad when she could go swimming. The next week a pastor in town was discovered to have cancer. Two of these same doctors went to his hospital room and prayed with him. The word is now out in that northern California community, “We’ve got doctors in town who go and pray with patients!”
Help us never again to visit a patient and ignore Your presence and Your love for them.