Monday, June 27, 2011

Changing the World ... One Person at a Time

Last week six doctors gathered at one of their homes to begin planning for the first Orlando chapter of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. These associations "exist to motivate, educate, and equip Christian physicians and dentists to glorify God by living out the character of Christ in their homes, practices, communities, and around the world." Now that's a mission statement I can internalize and resolve to live out!

As I contemplate the things we need in order to live out the character of Christ in our personal and professional lives, my thoughts turn to the patients I've seen this month. You see, for the first time in twelve years I'm working at a secular clinic. I recently met a young man with HIV and depression who feels spiritually and emotionally lost. Two weeks ago I met a man in his fifties who hadn't seen a doctor in over six years because of fear -- so he now has very advanced diabetes and heart disease. I met a woman with panic attacks who has no community to speak of, and a young man in the midst of a disappointing and painful divorce.

How can I possibly help restore wholeness to these broken lives while neglecting the emotional, relational, and spiritual elements that affect their health and well-being? It is not possible -- not if I want to really help them.

Twelve years ago, a simple prayer began a transformation in me whereby I stopped being one more doctor and started to grow into a Christian physician. To me, that means that I started living out my faith in every area of my life, not just my private prayer life. Although faith is intensely private and grows by leaps and bounds in the intimacy of personal prayers between an individual and God, faith that changes the world is often public. And I have chosen to go public in spite of my fears.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." What a shame that a man who stood for non-violence, peace, and unity had such an opinion of Christians. As followers of Jesus, we must not simply walk alongside Him passively or follow at a distance. Our calling is to become like Him, and that happens one day at a time, one action at a time, one thought at a time, and one prayer at a time - as we stay close to Him.

It is so critical to find mature Christian mentors who can challenge, encourage, and help to keep us accountable and on track. It is even more compelling to become one of those mentors. 

In modern, Western healthcare, it is so easy to become discouraged and apathetic by the challenges we face every day. Yet, we have the awesome privilege of being Christ to those in need, often during their most vulnerable and terrifying moments. It is my hope and prayer that, as I treat hurting people, they will leave thinking, "I like your Christ, and I'm starting to like Christians. You look so much like your Christ."

In Hope and with Joy,
Dr Mari

I published a devotional for healthcare professionals and caregivers in 2012. Visit my author website to read more about Walking with Jesus in Healthcare.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dr Mari's Health & Hope Corner (featured in Hope Matters)

Hope: An Anchor for the Soul

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 
 Hebrews 6:19

One of my earliest journal entries as a teenager declares, “I don’t want to be a healer; I want to be a giver of hope.” Thirty years later, I am now a family physician. Although I love to help the sick and those in need, I recognize that I am not a healer. God is the healer who bestows upon us the knowledge, skills, and compassion to extend healing to others. I am, however, a giver of hope, and those of us in medicine who aren’t have missed the point of our calling. 

One of my favorite definitions of faith comes from Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is confidence and assurance, not wishful thinking, and hope is a fruit of faith. In uncertainty, hope yells, “Believe!” and whispers, “You’re not alone.” It reminds us of possibilities we’ve not considered and equips the soul with pluck.

We can learn about hope and faith by observing trees. J.W. Von Goethe said it this way, “Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.” I would add, “And then we see it.”  

I have discovered that the most powerful gift I possess is my faith - a storehouse of tangible hope. Over the years I have met countless people who have lost hope and, in the process, have lost their connection to their deepest desires, to God, and to others. What joy it brings to rekindle their faith and hope by sharing mine! Then I notice small buds begin to form on the branches of their hearts as joy returns, followed by the full blooms of Springtime. It’s as if they’ve come back to life. 

Hope restores purpose and vision to the soul. It is an anchor to the life within fueled by the Giver of life. When we share hope, we extend ourselves for the sake of others, helping them find greater purpose and meaning in the midst of their struggles. So plant seeds of hope in someone’s heart today, and watch for the harvest of healing, of joy, of life! 

Faithfully,
Dr Mari 

Dr. Mari's Health & Hope Corner is published monthly at Hope Matters.

Dr Mari's Health & Hope Corner (featured in Hope Matters)

Introducing Dr Mari's Health & Hope Corner

 

Olympic athlete Eric Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

When I write, I feel God's pleasure.

I have worked as a family physician for over fifteen years while always nurturing my love of writing. I have written for the American Family Physician Journal, contributed to several devotionals, and gained editing experience through various projects over the years. Then, about eighteen months ago, I became involved in one of my favorite writing ventures. I joined the Little Pink Book™ team as their translator and copy editor.

Having lost my mother to breast cancer in my early twenties, I found Maryann Makekau’s When Your Mom Has Cancer and When Your Mom’s Cancer Doesn’t Go Away to be works of love. With compassion and endearing simplicity, these books conveyed what I wish someone had told me years ago. While translating them into my native Spanish, I was surprised by the showers of healing and hope that I received in the process. I experienced the words of Proverbs 11:25b, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

As a doctor, I strive to care for the soul and minister to the spirit while treating the body. While not impossible, nurturing wholeness can be difficult to achieve in the traditional medical office, and writing provides another way to share my message. Mother Teresa urged us to do “small things with great love.” Dr Mari’s Health & Hope Corner is one such “small thing” offered to encourage, inspire, and help others to find greater purpose, healing, and hope.

Be whole!
Dr Mari