“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV 1984).
Mr. Bishop was my last patient in a fast-paced, hectic clinic day. He was confined to a wheelchair, lived alone and had come alone to see me. When I finished my work with him, rather than leaving the room, he just sat there, talking about cooking. I let him talk and he described many recipes, including his one for sweet potatoes.
“I first slice them like French fries and place them in an iron skillet with just a little bit of water to keep them from sticking. I then add a half stick of butter and sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon. I cook them until they are brown, but still firm.”
I had plenty of work with charts and hospital rounds ahead of me, but I decided I could do nothing better for this man’s healing than to let him talk and to add my few words of encouragement.
In my experience, dentists and physicians vary tremendously in the amount of time they allot for each patient. Some work so slowly that they can’t pay their bills and others so fast that a nurse has to follow them with a hose to cool them down. I’ve never been able to answer with authority the question, “How much time should a Christian doctor spend with each patient?”
My best answer sounds like that of a presidential candidate with its lack of specificity, “Long enough to accomplish what God would have you do with each patient.”
For me, this means fixing the problem they came to me for, while loving them and bearing witness for the Christ, however He leads. That usually doesn’t leave me a lot of time for chatting.
However, I suspect that once a day, at least, God places a patient in front of me for whom I need to stop everything for ten minutes and intentionally serve by just listening---and, as I listen, pray silently for words of witness.
One a day, kind of like vitamins.
Even I can do that.
Dear God, Help me seek the ones for whom you would have me stop and listen.