Saturday, December 7, 2019

Healing



Photo by Church of Britain
I had a dream in which I would be starting a medical internship at the cancer center near our home. At the orientation meeting the night before the internship was to begin, the chief resident explained that the new interns would be paired off for a test on the first day. Both members of each pair would be assigned to the same patient and each would have to do a complete history, physical examination, and record review, and then present the case to the attending physicians. Based on their findings and analysis, only one of each pair would be chosen to complete the internship.

The intern with whom I was paired was a young Asian woman who had impeccable credentials and training and who appeared to be not only brilliant and accomplished, but competitive almost to the point of being ruthless. I found this quite intimidating, as I had been away from medical practice and schooling for so long that I felt rusty, at best. 

The morning of the test I arrived early to see my assigned patient, only to be intercepted by the resident.

“After the interns present their cases, there will be a party for all the staff, so you need to go get the refreshments from the kitchen now,” he barked. “Be sure you get enough Oysters Rockefeller.” 

He vanished down a corridor before I could even question him about what to get, how much, and most importantly, when I would be able to see my patient. But I knew that I couldn’t risk offending or disobeying the chief resident, especially on my first day, as his input could determine whether my first day would be my last. And if I did pass the exam, he could make my life miserable during the balance of the internship, and even ruin my career. 

So I sped down the hall in the direction of where I thought the kitchen would be, only to realize that it was a good 30 minute walk from the assigned patient’s floor!  When I finally arrived at the kitchen, there was little food to choose from, and no serving carts with which to transport it. So I grabbed a platter of Oysters Rockefeller and hurried back the way I had come, or so I thought. 

But a series of detours and barriers kept me from my chosen route and destination. One ward and corridor were closed off to quarantine a patient with a highly contagious infection; the floors were being waxed in another area; and I was not allowed to pass through the Intensive Care Units or surgical suites. 

Before long I was hopelessly lost, still juggling my medical bag and platter of oysters. Finally I arrived at the room where the presentations had already started and where the party would later take place, but with no time to examine my patient or even read his chart. 

In fact, he was there also, listening in horror as my competitor thoroughly dissected his history, physical, imaging and laboratory findings; reached an obscure yet well-reasoned diagnosis; and painted a dreary outlook for his grim prognosis, despite the cutting edge treatments she recommended. 

All but the patient applauded her presentation and conclusions, and then it was time for me to take the podium. I had no idea what I was going to say, but as I began to speak, the words came to me with authority, confidence and power. 

“I have heard no symptoms or complaints from this patient,” I began, timidly at first. “But as I look at him, I see a child of God, made in His image, against whom no weapon of the enemy can prosper. His laboratory tests and imaging studies notwithstanding, all of which show highly aggressive tumors, are no match for God’s power. Jesus Christ alone is the Great Physician, by Whose stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24), Who is risen with healing in His wings.” (Jeremiah 8:22; Malachi 4:2

As I spoke, a remarkable transformation came over the patient, who went from huddled over and shaking in his wheelchair to sitting upright, then standing up in triumph, his countenance changing from pallid terror to ruddy victory. All the medical staff were puzzled, then amazed at this apparent healing in response to words of life. 

Whether or not I would continue the medical internship suddenly was of no importance to me, for I knew that God was in control and that He would work all things together for good for His children who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). 

When I awoke and began considering the meaning of the dream, I immediately realized the connection to my husband, who several months ago was diagnosed with locally aggressive prostate cancer. Despite being a retired physician and even having rotated through oncology services throughout my career, I felt thoroughly unprepared for my new roles as medical advocate, dietician, nutritionist, physical fitness coach, chef and spiritual counselor for my soulmate. 

But God’s grace is sufficient, His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and with Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). He has transformed the enemy’s weapon of cancer into an instrument of physical and spiritual healing. Although God can and does work through doctors and treatments, He alone directs healing. To rely on medicines alone would be foolish (Jeremiah 46:11), for only He has the power to revive us, and His are the words of life (John 6:63, 68; Philippians 2:16; 1 John 1:1). 

Unexpected blessings from this trial include a new lifestyle in which our eating and exercise glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31) by strengthening His temple of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); the heightened realization that life is short (James 4:14) and we need to treasure each moment with our loved ones and the time He graciously allots to us to serve Him (John 9:4); and increased faith in and dependence on Him. 

While feeling discouraged a few weeks ago about whether all we had changed under the Lord’s leading was making any difference, I prayed for a confirmation from that day’s Bible reading. Sure enough, He directed me to Ezekiel 47:12, stating that the fruit of the trees will be as food, and the leaves of the trees as medicine, which confirmed to me that our largely plant-based Mediterranean diet and herbal supplements would be beneficial. 

I also believe this dream contained a warning against eating the “king’s dainties,” (Daniel 1; Proverbs 23:1-3) like Oysters Rockefeller. Oysters are among the animals described as unclean in Mosaic law (Leviticus 11:10), and Rockefeller brings to mind rich cuisine favored by the world, yet with health risks if consumed in excess. 

Soon after the confirmation from Ezekiel, we received encouraging reports from my husband’s cardiologist that his weight, blood pressure and heart rate were now ideal, and by a blood test showing that the prostate cancer was highly responsive to the hormone treatment, so much so that the oncologist was surprised with how rapidly this had occurred. To God be the glory! 

As the dream indicated, we are often powerless to fight our worst battles in our own flesh, for time, circumstances, distractions, sins and snares hinder us (Hebrews 12:1). All the education, training and good intentions in the world can still leave us ill-equipped. 

But Jesus Christ is the Great Physician Who healed the blind, the paralytics, and the lepers, and even raised the dead, sometimes by His Word or touch and sometimes even at a distance; sometimes immediately and sometimes gradually (Mark 1; 5; 8:22-25). He is touched by our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15), for He has experienced them, and He knows our frame, for He created us from the dust in His own image and breathed the breath of life into our nostrils (Genesis 2:7). 

Our battle is far from over, and my husband’s most arduous medical treatments and procedures are still to come, but we know that victorylies in Jesus Christ, His finished work on the cross, and in His resurrection, so that all who trust Him have new, abundant, eternal life! (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 57; John 3:16; 10:10). 


© 2019 Laurie Collett


 



Saturday, November 30, 2019

What Gifts Will You Give Him?

Photo by Sigismund von Dobschütz 2007
During the Christmas season and always, have you considered what gifts you will give your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? What can we possibly give Him that could even come close to showing our appreciation for the greatest Gift ever given – God’s Son given that all who trust Him may have eternal life? (John 3:16)

His story proves that you can’t judge a gift from its wrappings. God the Father’s greatest gift to the world, His only begotten Son, destined to become the perfect sacrifice for all sins, and to return again to rule the universe in glory, was presented in a very humble way. He came as a helpless baby, born into a humble family, delivered in a lowly stable (Luke 2:7).

Just as the Wise Men of Christ’s day sought Him out and aimed to give Him their very best gifts (Matthew 2: 1-12), so do wise men and women of today seek Him and consecrate to Him their lives and the very best gifts they can offer.

You don't have to shop for these gifts, because He is the source of all good things (James 1:17). You won't have to go into debt over them, because you can't outgive God, and the more you give Him, the more blessings will flow back to you (Luke 6:38). They're always exactly what He would want and a perfect fit, as long as you're following His perfect will for your life. And you don't have to worry that they'll be returned -- you can be sure they will, as He gives back to you many times over all that you entrust to Him (1 Kings 17:10-16; John 6:5-13).

God judges our gifts to Him not on their greatness, because there is nothing that He needs from us. Anything we have is pitiful compared with His infinite wealth (Psalm 50: 7-12), and all that we have came from Him in the first place (James 1:17). Instead, He judges our motives, our willingness to trust all to Him, and the sacrificial nature of our gift (Luke 12:48; Luke 21:1-4). 

If He has blessed us with talents, material wealth, or other resources, He requires us to be a channel through whom blessings flow, because to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). But even if others do not consider us blessed in worldly terms, we can please God with our giving. When Jesus saw the poor widow throwing two mites into the treasury (Luke 21:1-4), He praised her more than all the others because she gave all that she had.

The absolute amount or greatness of the gift we give Him is not important, but what matters is how much of what we have we give back to Him. He is pleased with sacrificial giving because it shows our trust in Him, our faith that He will give back to us in abundance.

A sinful woman broke open a costly alabaster box containing precious ointment – possibly her inheritance or dowry -- that she used to anoint His Head. Jesus promised that this lavish gift would always be remembered in Scripture (Mark 14:3-9)

Elijah, prophet of God, followed God’s direction and asked a widow to give him her last morsel of food. When she did so in faith, God provided for her daily (1 Kings 17). God always honors His promises to those who trust Him in faith.

A similar story of God taking a seemingly small gift, multiplying and magnifying it to do great good, then giving back in abundance, is the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes (John 6:5), in which Jesus feeds a crowd of thousands with only a little boy’s lunch that he willingly gave. The disciples use the reasoning of men, not trusting in God’s supernatural ability to provide. 

But God wants us to demonstrate our faith – it is never a question of whether He is able, but of whether we have faith.  No one goes away hungry, and there are 12 baskets full of bread left over, which must have gone to the little boy to feed his family and no doubt his whole village.

In this season of gifts, may we always remember and thank the greatest Giver and Gift of all time. The best gift you could possibly give to anyone on your gift list is to share the Gospel with them! You can give it freely to everyone without taxing your budget; one size fits all; and they’ll never need to return or exchange it. Christ – the perfect Gift -- is truly All that anyone needs!

May we give Him what He has given us – our body, mind and spirit -- as a living sacrifice to His glory! 

© 2012 Laurie Collett (reposted from the archives)


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