This morning, as my feet hit life’s floor, I was reminded again that some of the things in my body that used to work well don’t work like they did when I was younger. My joints seem sore and stiff a lot of the time, these days. I’ve got arthritis in my hands, my back, my shoulders. I’ve got a trick knee that occasionally swells up and gives me fits. My hearing isn’t what it once was, and I have to use hearing aids. My eyesight has dimmed, too, and fine print is difficult for me to read, now. Somehow, all those realities escaped me when I was younger. I’d heard that older people had aches and pains. But, I had no idea what growing older would be like.
As a life coach who does a lot of work with physicians and healthcare professionals, I’m occasionally asked to speak to students on medical school campuses. The journey to become a doctor is an extremely difficult one, demanding academic excellence and a commitment to a lifetime of learning and a love of science and people.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to address a group of Christian medical students who had gathered for a time of retreat, away from the rigors of study for a few short hours. My task was to challenge them, encourage them, hopefully give them a ‘spiritual boost’ in their journey to become doctors.
I started my presentation with an observation none of those students had expected. I said to them, “I had no idea it’s as easy to become a doctor as it is.” Their eyes rolled. Their heads went back. Some of them laughed. Others had a look of disbelief. These students spent every moment they weren’t in class listening to lectures, studying charts, notes, watching films, burying their lives in the academic pursuit it takes to become a doctor. And now, I was telling them it wasn’t that difficult. I knew, somehow, that they would want to hear what was coming next.
I said, “I’ve done some research, and all you need to know to be a doctor is four things:
Anatomy: Where stuff is. One of the things you have to do to be a great doctor is learn where stuff is.
Physiology: How stuff is supposed to work. And, then of course you have to know how it’s supposed to work.
Pathology: What’s broken, and why? Doctors need to find out what’s broken and why.
Diagnosis/Treatment: How do you fix it.
I spent the next several moments talking about the obvious disparity between the simplicity of my premise, and what actually takes place in the life of an individual who aspires to be a practicing physician. There is obviously a lot more to being a great doctor than just understanding those four words, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and diagnosis/treatment.
The Book says we were knit together in our mother’s womb. God knows anatomy; where all our stuff was supposed to be. We are fearfully, and wonderfully made. And if anyone knows how stuff is supposed to work? If anyone knows physiology, it’s God. He designed us. And in terms of pathology? There’s not a creak in my bones that God is not familiar with. My arthritis and my bum knee? He knows exactly what’s wrong. Our bodies weren’t designed to last beyond seventy or eighty years. Ps. 90:10 says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures …” but anything beyond that is a stretch. A stiff and painful stretch. God can fix any ache or pain I have with no effort at all.
But it is in the diagnosis and treatment of the ailments of our souls that our loving God has been most attentive to. He is eternally different from any earthly doctor we will ever consult. God, the Great Physician has examined the wicked hearts of all humanity and determined that a mere ‘treatment’ or massage would not suffice. Men would need not splints to mend some broken bone, but instead a transplant to heal a broken soul. He would create a new heart in the depths of those who surrender to and accept His loving invitation. That once-and-for-all restoration would make all the other aches and pains of life fade into the Light of His Great Love.
“From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.” (Ps. 33:13)