Saturday, June 15, 2013

Healing, Faith, and Love: A Father's Day Tribute

In Luke 4:38-44, Peter Simon's mother-in-law was "suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them" (v.38-39).

I love that this healing involves Simon’s own mother-in-law. When Jesus calls us into ministry, we, too, witness the miraculous in our midst, even with our loved ones. I experienced this with my father.

Years ago, I traveled home to Puerto Rico when Dad’s heart began to fail. I found him at the coronary step-down unit after a “small heart attack.” Although he looked strong, I knew how weak his heart had become, its pumping capacity having dropped to a mere fifteen percent. His heart was seriously failing.

Though I’d prayed for Dad for years, I’d never prayed with him—and it was time. When I timidly asked if I could pray with him, his eyes lit up! So I laid my hand on Dad’s chest and prayed like a child who knew this could be her last week with Daddy—even her last hour.

There were no fireworks, no visible angels, and no physical changes that I could detect. But as I prayed, I knew that my father would be okay. And not just his physical heart, but his spiritual heart as well. I gained a complete peace about his physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being that became an anchor for my soul and a comfort to my family and to him. 
 
Papi lived for three more years with an implanted defibrillator and fulfilled many of his lifelong dreams in that short time, including becoming a published author—twice! 

More importantly, I believe that my father gave his life over to Christ. Our last years together were the best in our relationship. We grew closer as he became more alive, at peace, and full of joy. As with Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus stepped into my house, where He continues to draw my family to Himself one person at a time.

Is there someone in your life that needs you to step out in faith and pray with him or her? Be courageous, have faith, and pray. Our God delights to answer.

Walking by faith,
Dr Mari 

* This is an excerpt from my book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare. I post it in memory of my father, a humble and sincere man of integrity whose intelligence, creativity, and sense of humor blessed us. ¡Te amo, papi! Recordarte me hace sonreir. (I love you, Daddy! I smile when I think of you.) *

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Faith, Love, and Rest: An Author's Journey

Since the publication of my devotional, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare, I've been busy with speaking engagements, travel, interviews, and many opportunities to share my message of hope. In the midst of a healthcare crisis, it's been a tremendous blessing to help so many colleagues regain a sense of meaning and purpose in medicine. As is so often the case when we give of ourselves, there have been many unexpected blessings, such as working alongside inspiring colleagues from whom I've learned and received much encouragement. I am grateful for every one of them.

Of the different experiences I've had over six months, a few stand out. I was invited to speak at the annual conference for the Christian Community Health Fellowship in Atlanta. Dr. John Perkins and Dr. Jeff Trask reminded us that as we care for the poor, we must examine our hearts and allow the relationships to change us -- including any wrong attitudes and misconceptions we may have. They challenged us to be transformed in our thinking and in our actions, which is precisely what Christ wants to do with each of us.

As I shared my story of walking with Jesus in healthcare, a sense of shared purpose in medicine filled the room. After my talk, nurses and doctors pulled me aside to share their stories of caring for people from the heart as well as their struggles in medicine. I prayed with many of these servants in healthcare, wounded healers like me who continually call on God to help them love the people they serve. I left the conference even more inspired than I was when I arrived (and I was already pretty fired up!).

At the Physician Well-being Conference in Florida, I was given the opportunity to read portions of my book to a room full of doctors, and something quite unexpected happened. As I read about Mother Teresa caring for a dying man she found on the streets of Calcutta, I could not hold back my heartfelt tears, and neither could my colleagues. In four years of medical school, three years of residency, and more than sixteen years in practice, I'd never experienced such a corporate healing. It was a beautiful experience that left many of us speechless.

We need more opportunities to grieve the losses and experience the joys of healthcare together, so that our hearts may be lighter as we care for people. In this field, we can't stop for very long. By necessity, we move from room to room with little time to take in, process, and recover from all we just heard from suffering human beings. It's scary to think how many in healthcare are emotional ticking bombs, weighed down by unexpressed (and often unidentified) grief.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus knows how much we need to stop, rest, and heal.

Since November, I've spoken to nurses, physicians, caregivers, churches, healing ministries, elementary and high school students, and more. I've had precious moments with nurses, therapists, caregivers, and doctors who shared their hearts with me. And I've met authors and colleagues I've admired for years. All amazing experiences, joyful and humbling.

After six months of constant activity, I now have the gift of rest, since my next talk isn't until next month. As I slow down a bit, I continue to ponder the verse that's become so meaningful this year. In Galatians 5:6, the apostle Paul said,

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  

As I rest and get re-energized, I recognize that these words hold the key to our calling. All the good works in the world mean nothing if love is not behind them, whether we're writing books, trying to inspire others with our words, serving the poor, or helping someone die with dignity. 

Self-seeking, selfishness, and pride stand ready to derail us. We must love, and genuine love is selfless, like Jesus. It focuses on others.

Our faith finds its truest expression in love. And to love like Jesus, we must know Him. As I rest, I rest in Him, seeking to know Him more, that I may love like Him.

Warmly,
Dr. Mari 

To learn more about my devotional, visit my author site. And thank you to all my readers for your encouragement, support, and love.