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The Medical Importance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1 Cor 15:19

The resurrection of Jesus truly could be the most significant event in the history of mankind, apart from the incarnation of Christ.  It has extreme importance for those who work in the medical professions.

As students we first encounter our mortal enemy, death, in anatomy lab.  A cold, lifeless, naked body lying before us does not seem real.  We quickly learn to dehumanize this situation and separate ourselves from this reality.  We will spend our lifetimes learning about, preventing and combating disease which brings us to an end of our physical being.  But is this the end?

Medicine is a frustrating profession when dealing with death.  We may convince ourselves that we are winning the battle but inevitably we fall short of our goal.

All of us have a desire to understand this pattern of life and death.  We want to know where we came from, what happened and where we are going.  How do we find answers to these questions and not live lives of desperation and futility?

Thank God we can find hope in the reality of the resurrection and the empty tomb.  Not just an innocent man but a perfect man without fault who took upon himself the punishment we deserved. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:7-8)

They laid his cold, pale, cyanotic, lifeless body in a tomb.  Their hope was crushed.  Then on the third day, .Jesus was seen first by Peter, then by the twelve and then by over 500 at once.  He spoke. He ate.  He said, “Look at my hands and feet. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones.” (Luke 24:38, 39)  Jesus was alive!

As only medical professionals we will lose the battle against disease more often than we would like to admit.  We can offer a temporary hope from the suffering of our patients.  But, as Christians we can offer a permanent victory for eternity.

The resurrection is real.  Our hope is real.  When our human efforts fail, we can still offer this hope to all.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ”Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Death has no victory for those whose believe in the living, resurrected Jesus.

Read and meditate: Luke 24;1Corinthians 15.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Christian Physicians, Death, Faith, Healing, Hope

 

True Love

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34

Love is certainly a popular subject.  We dream about it.  We fantasize about it.  We think about it.  We romanticize it.  We read about it.  We sing about it.  We act upon it. We abuse it.  We want to love and be loved.  We dedicate a whole day to celebrate it.  As we read the Gospels, we see Jesus talking more and more about love, particularly as he approached the cross.  How should we as medical professionals properly share the love of Christ with our patients and colleagues?

We read in the Bible that God is love.  But what exactly does this mean?  How did Jesus use this word? Repeatedly, during the week before he was crucified Jesus teaches the disciples about true love.  Love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him (John 14:21).  If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word (John 14:23).  As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love (John 15:9).  These things I command you, that you love one another (John 15:17).

The context of these statements is Jesus humbling himself to wash the feet of his disciples, his teaching on obedience to God’s word, his predicting of suffering to come for himself and his disciples.

The Greek word used for this type of love is agape, meaning self-sacrificial.  Christ sacrificed in leaving the Father, becoming fully human and dying for us.  The Father sacrificed in sending his Son knowing he would have to suffer on our behalf.  Jesus demonstrates a perfect love of obedience to the Father on behalf of those who did nothing to merit his love.

This self-sacrificing love for one another is further defined in 1 Corinthians 13.  This type of love does what is right for the other person, not what is most advantageous for ourselves. So at the end of the day when you review the patients you examined and the colleagues you worked with, will you be able to say you were patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud?  That you were not easily angered, self-seeking or delighted in what was evil, but rejoiced in the truth, always protected, trusted, hoped and persevered?

If you strive to do these things you will understand and know true love and be able to share the love of Christ with one another and the people who come to us for loving care.

Read and meditate on John 13-16, 1 Corinthian 13.

 

Your Choice

But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42

The New Year celebrations have passed.  Another year ends and another year begins.  All of the toasts and well wishes for good health, success and happiness have been made.  The reality of life now returns to us.  The nights are long and the days are often cold and gray. When all is said and done what will make a difference in our lives and the lives of those we know this year?

The story of Mary and Martha is well known to Bible readers.  Both knew Jesus.  Both were believers who trusted in Him and in the resurrection on the last day.  Both met Jesus after their brother Lazarus died and said to Him, “Lord, if you had been there, my brother would not have died.”  Both were witnesses when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead demonstrating great compassion.

Yet, each chose different ways to serve Jesus.  Both welcomed Him into their home.  Martha chose to be the perfect host, while Mary chose to sit and listen to the living Word.  Martha was distracted with the mundane and business of life while Mary anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair.  Martha’s work definitely needed to be accomplished, while what Mary did might be considered wasting time and extravagant.

Jesus said Mary made the better choice because she did what was needed and would not be taken away from her.

In our lives we recognize we sometimes behave like Martha and at other times more like Mary.  Like Martha we complain when we see others not behaving according to our plan.  We get distracted by the business of providing care to so many patients, making enough money and pleasing all around us.  So how will we choose what to do day by day, month by month, year by year?

First, spend time reading the Bible daily and listen.  The Word of God helps us to know him and to renew our minds in order to know what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God  (Romans 12:2).

Second, decide to do what has an eternal value and cannot be taken away from us concentrating on our needs instead of our wants.  Therefore, lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19).  Because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21).

It is your choice!

 

Read and meditate on John 11-12:8, Luke 10:38-42.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Ethical Standards

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.  Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.  Zechariah 7:9,10

As Christian healthcare workers we are called to be salt and light where we work and study.  We are called to use our God-given talents in such a way that is honoring to God, reflects His glory, and points people to Jesus.  This happens when we apply His principles to how we administer care to our patients.

Our passage comes from the Old Testament book, Zechariah.  The Jewish nation had returned from exile in Babylon.  They were rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple while facing opposition from neighboring countries.  Yet, they quickly forgot the lessons they had learned during the exile.  This book was written to encourage those who had returned, to foster repentance from hypocrisy and return to biblical ethical standards in preparation for the return of their Messiah.

As healthcare workers we often find ourselves in a working environment which is opposed to biblical ethical standards.  And worse, we think, as the nation of Israel did, that our outward conformity is good enough instead of examining the true condition of our hearts.  We are hypocritical as well, saying one thing and doing another.   How then should we behave with our patients and colleagues?

First, we should administer true justice.  Our dealings should be fair, not showing partiality to one or the other, but treating people on the basis of the best knowledge we currently possess or refer to someone who is knowledgeable.  We conform to the rules of our hospitals and ministry of health in honoring man, but often we do not do what is most pleasing to God. Thus, we have a false righteousness.

Second, what is it that pleases God?  To show mercy and compassion.  We should not give up fighting to bring both physical and spiritual healing to our patients.  God has been patient and long suffering with us.  Compassion is the essence of what Jesus did for us, taking our sin upon himself with the desire to relieve our suffering.  He is the Great Physician and is capable of bringing both physical and spiritual healing.  It is not enough to “Primum non nocere” (First, do no harm) but we should also show kindness to our patients and colleagues.

Third, we should not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.  We should treat people with respect and dignity, not taking advantage of them because of their age, social strata, economic position or country of origin which could make them easily exploited.

Fourth, we should not plan evil in our hearts against others.  The condition of our hearts is critical.  Our motivations are just as damaging as our actions themselves.  Ultimately our inner thoughts, particularly in moments of stress, will reveal themselves in outward actions.

Therefore, let us join together in caring for our patients to administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another, not oppressing the widow, the fatherless, the alien or the poor and not think evil of each other in our hearts.

Read Zechariah 7 and 8, Matthew 23:23-24.

 

Captivity and Purpose

Now there are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city. Ezra 2:1

Have you ever thought what is the real purpose of my life?  You may have asked God as a student, here I am studying for so many years, will there be an end to this drudgery? Or after years of working two or three jobs to make a living, wonder why has this been so hard?  Or surely LORD I have been faithful, when will I receive your blessing? Or those who are supposed to be guiding me are teaching me things contrary to my faith, why?

No matter what stage of life or our professional career, we often feel captive to our circumstances.  Trapped by those who teach us, by those in charge over us or maybe even by the patients who we have been called to serve.  How about those students from foreign lands who come to study in Ukraine, leaving all that is comfortable to study and live in a place unlike their own country.

I think we are all held captive in some way by our circumstances.  Think of how the Israelites must have felt being taken away from the Promised Land to serve in a foreign country.  There they were being held captive in Babylon.  Yet they were clinging to the hope offered through Jeremiah and Daniel that God would not leave them or forsake them but restore them.

Then one day after their enemy Nebuchadnezzar was defeated by King Cyrus of Persia, their circumstances change.  By God’s sovereignty, the prophesy of Jeremiah is fulfilled.  The Israelites are heading back to Jerusalem.

That is all well and good for the nation, but what about me?  The answer is found in Ezra 2:2-35.  This is a list of the common people who returned. Note they are listed before all the earthly important people, the priests, the Levites

So what do we learn.  First, the Lord knows his people by name.  He cares for us because he knows us personally.  God is involved in the details.  Why else would he list their names and give significance to  what is common. Second, the seemingly insignificant have value and usefulness in bringing about God’s plan.

Therefore, no matter in what circumstances we find ourselves we can be assured God has our best interest in mind because He is sovereign and faithful.  He has created us for good works that He has prepared for us in advance for us to do.  Yes, God is in the details!

Read and Meditate: Ezra 1&2, Genesis 50:20-21, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:28-30

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Glory of Being a Medical Professional

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2

All around the world students are graduating after completing anywhere from four to eight years of schooling.  They now proudly accept a new title: doctor, nurse, dentist or pharmacist.  Every end corresponds with a new beginning.  Along with these new titles we find new responsibilities and challenges.

The reality is during our years of training we have been transformed through the learning process into worldly providers of health care.  Using God-given gifts and talents, man searches out the intricacies of God’s creation to learn what is normal and pathologic.  God has concealed these mysteries in the biochemical structure and pathways of our cells.  Each level of deeper understanding reveals an ever-increasing complexity which should increase our awe in the gloriousness of God.

As we learn just how “wonderfully and fearfully made” we are, along with how we can temporarily reverse the curse of sickness and death, we must be careful not to be tempted to become prideful and think to ourselves look what I  have done.  In God’s image we were created, but we are not God.  He has graciously given us many of his characteristics but not to an infinite degree of perfection like Him.

Yes, those graduating have worked hard to master the knowledge needed to become competent medical professionals.  Your minds have been transformed and renewed by your studies. But the scripture cautions us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”  We must not forget who made us and enabled us to study His works.

Yes, you have searched out God’s hidden things and now you are basking in the glory of your accomplishment and your new title.   To what degree have you become like your professors?  What philosophies lie behind what you have been taught?

The Apostle Paul warns us in Colossians 2:9, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ.”  To what degree have you been influenced by evolutionary thinking, situational ethics, pragmatism or secularism?   While the Bible is not a textbook of science,  it does explain who we are, where we came from and what went wrong.

Therefore, whether you are still in training, just graduated or well into your career, be careful to give God the glory due His Name.  If you must boast, then boast in what Christ has done for you and me.  Christ has defeated death, and because of His resurrection, we can offer true hope through repentance and faith in Jesus to those who seek our care.

Read and Mediate on Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26; Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:9

 

Trust and Medicine

I am glad I can have complete confidence in you. 2 Corinthians 7:16

Issues of trust seem to be present in all aspects of life, particularly in the field of medicine.  Do patients trust their doctors and nurses?  How do they know whether the doctor was trained appropriately?  Can they trust the diagnosis that is made?  Can they trust the advice they receive?  Can they trust they will not be harmed by treatments recommended? Can students trust their teachers? Can teachers trust their students?

Trust is at the heart of all healthy relationships, whether between patients, doctors or nurses; people and their governments; between neighbors; or husbands and wives as well as with God himself.  In the garden Adam and Eve broke the trusting relationship they enjoyed with God by believing the deception of the serpent.

If trust is such a key factor in the care we give, and society in general, we should ask how can we develop and therefore renew a culture of trust in the medical profession.  We find some clues in Psalm 15.

This Psalm describes a person of high moral integrity.  He does what is right.  He is honest, always speaking the truth in such a way that what is spoken is understood to be from the heart and truly true. He does not speak badly of others for his own gain.  He is against corruption at all levels.  What he says he will do, he will do.  He does not accept bribes or illegal payments.

Dr. Cranshaw summarized the covenant between patients and medical professionals in the Journal of the American Medical Association as follows:

“By its traditions and very nature, medicine is a special kind of human activity — one that cannot be pursued effectively without the virtues of humility, honesty, intellectual integrity, compassion, and disregard for excessive self-interest and monetary gain.”

I ask you to join with me in pray for the development of a culture of trust in our profession this year beginning with each of us. We should first look at ourselves and ask how must we change our thoughts and actions to become more trustworthy.

Read and Mediate Psalm 15, Matthew 7:3-5.

 
 
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