“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 9:12 ESV
The tricky part about practicing medicine is that most people think of actual medicine when we talk about going to the doctor’s office. We tend to think linearly when we’re considering the provider-patient relationship. Someone may go into the doctor’s office for knee pain and leave with an x-ray order and a prescription for some arthritis pills. Someone may go to the doctor for maintenance on their blood pressure or diabetes and they will leave with a prescription for medication refills and a bandage on their arm from the recent blood draw.
But what if medicine isn’t so linear? What if it’s not a simple mathematical formula of complaint + analysis + treatment = healing?
There have been numerous occasions when I’ve entered an exam room expecting to execute that mathematical formula with precision, expertise, and efficacy, allowing me to dream of a few moments of freedom in between patients. I don’t mind a straight line. But, it’s not why I chose to enter into the medical field.
Imagine a day where the formula has been executed at the expertise of a astrophysicist and right when you are about to walk out of the exam room, the patient says, “Can I ask you one more thing?” Do you politely decline and politely offer a close follow-up appointment to discuss any further issues? Some do. I don’t.
I close back the door that was once my method of escape, plop back down on the stool, and answer, “Sure.”
These are the moments when my patients break down and cry. You pause and watch as their lips curl downward, eyebrows waver, eyes swell with tears, and they say, “I’m so sorry for doing this. I know you’re busy.” They wipe their tears on the sleeve of their shirt or on the palms of their hands as you reach for a Kleenex box to pass to them. They begin to tell you how their daughter hates them, or how they’ve been in an abusive relationship for a year and they can’t get out, or how their mother died last month and the grief has finally kicked in. Then, they finish by telling you how weak, stupid, crazy, and helpless they feel. That all is lost.
As a medical provider, I have a few things that I offer. I analyze the situation for safety, the need for counseling, a referral for Psychiatry, use of medications, and a close follow-up.
But as a Christian, I offer so much more. I offer scripture and I offer prayers. I look my patients in their longing eyes, place a gentle hand on their shoulder, and let them know that this exam room is now a safe haven. It is a room of peace, compassion, love, and prayer. I tell them how strong they are for sharing a story that’s been locked away in the basement of their souls. I tell them how strong they are for letting go of the tears they kept dry in the desert of their eyes. And I tell them how strong they are for allowing me to help when they spent months, or even years, carrying the burden by themselves. And I tell them that Christ knows their physical, mental, and emotional burdens and that He is already triumphant in their battle. Because no matter how weak my patients feel, I know there is a God that will provide strength, power, recovery, and healing.
The next time you go to the doctor’s office, lay your burdens down. You’re there for healing. It’s about time you sought it. And just maybe, your medical provider will write some prescriptions, come up with a plan for follow-up, and then pray for your healing. When you leave that exam room, I hope you feel God’s presence. When you leave that exam room, I hope you are filled with God’s grace, made perfect for that moment of weakness.