Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:8, NIV 2011).
I knew him as a man very anxious about his health. He certainly had a serious problem, but still was more “needy” than most when it came to reassurance and time commitment. This week he explained, “People just don’t know what is going on inside,” he said. “I had three kids. They are all gone. My two sons burned up in a fire. My daughter married a man who didn’t tell her about his AIDS, and I buried her too. All eight of my sisters are gone. People just don’t know what’s going on inside.”
It is so easy to fly through my patients each day and look at them as decisions rather than people. I need to get the job done and there is hardly any time for chatting about children and golf. For most of us, our patients get what they came for and we bill appropriately. We finish our days almost on time, but all the days begin to look alike and all the decisions eventually grow old.
It’s like my grandmother used to cut corn. She would take a sharp knife and only trim the very tips of the kernels. If that were the limit of her preparation, her creamed corn would have been somewhat tasteless. In order to make the delicacy I salivated for, Grandmother had to then take the dull edge of the knife and scrape the sweet pulp out from the cob. Man, that was good.
The real joy of practice lies not only in seeing someone we care for healed of their illness or eased from their pain; it lies within the person we choose to help with our skills. Only if we scrape the “pulp from the cob,” will our work be as joyful as God intended. Only if we spend a few moments with each encounter to find the person inside the pain, will we realize how much God loves the person for whom we are making decisions.
Help me seek the person behind each problem. If I am too busy to do so, then help me change my schedule and become a more integral part of your work.