“Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Jn 21: 16
Ben was a big, hulking man with a soft voice, recently brought through a serious illness. As his doctor I had been there with him. He had no one else, no family or friends to hold him up during his trials. Some of the past few months he had even been homeless on the streets.
Now he was better, at least for a while. As Ben thanked me for my help, I said to him.
“Now that you stable again, you need to go out there and help someone else.”
He grinned slightly, “I hear you, Doc.”
Why did I ask Ben to turn his attention to helping others? He still had a pretty rough life ahead for himself. It seems only fair, as much as he had gone through, for others to take care of him, not the reverse.
Frankly, I wasn’t thinking much about others when I asked Ben to go out and help; I asked Ben to help others for Ben’s sake.
Over decades of caring for patients who suffer a lot, it has become apparent to me that suffering people gain value and joy in life when they focus on others, rather than themselves. In fact, that works for doctors as well. It sounds peculiar, but, when I’m going through rough spots in my own life, I find great joy in making house calls and not charging the patients I visit. That’s certainly strange; but somehow, in pouring out for others without an expected reward, joy peeks into my darkness and lightens things up. It works for me; it works for my patients. It’s one of those subtle messages from the Cross.
Let me find solace in working with you to bring solace to others. Help me direct my patients toward the same source of renewal.