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A Moment on Rounds

August 17, 2021

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (Romans 1:16, NIV).

I walked into his room with five residents behind me on teaching rounds. We gathered around his bed, and I leaned over to ask of his symptoms. He reached up and touched the cross on my lapel. “I like that,” he said. “I am not depressed. I’m not sad. God is in control.” “I agree with you all the way,” I responded. “Whatever this is, God has you safe in His arms.” The house staff watched in silence.

I look back at the faces of those diverse young men and women who were watching a gray-headed physician lean over a one-legged man and share a conviction that God is in charge, and God is good.

What were they thinking?

“This is something old guys do.
“Doctors shouldn’t be stepping into faith issues.
“I sure hope he doesn’t talk to me about religious stuff.
“Should I report him for showing his faith during rounds?
“Doesn’t he know I’m a Muslim?
“Doesn’t he know I’m agnostic?
“Doesn’t he know I’m a Hindu?
“Does he know I don’t care?
“He can’t possibly be a real scientist.
“So, that’s what compassion looks like.
“Perhaps I need to connect better with my patients.
“Perhaps I need to care more.
“Perhaps I need to consider God’s place in medicine.
“Perhaps I need to consider God’s place in my life.”

It really doesn’t matter whether I understood the thoughts of those around me when I confirmed my faith with this suffering man. It’s really not important to consider personal consequences that might come from my openness. Frankly, I didn’t think about it at the time. That was all God’s business. I was swept into it because a patient saw a cross on my lapel, and I was authentic with my response.

God may choose to take this very minor moment and sweep it into oblivion. Or God may take this minor moment and sweep a lost one into His arms. The outcome is all God’s business. My business was to show up, be recognized and be authentic.

Dear Father,
Let me not orchestrate Your moments and let me not stand in Your way.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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