Enduring Through Faith
As healthcare professionals, the coalescing of exhaustive schedules, difficult patients and stressful circumstances can easily empty our energy tanks. God’s strength can save us from those tempting low compassion moments and allow us to soar above the winds of adversity in the milieu of a challenging medical environment.
Faith in healthcare can have a palpable impact for patients, healthcare professionals and the community. Studies have shown the positive effect of a prayer network, faith community and fellowship on healing, recovery and mental health. Its positive impact and importance to patients materialized to the point that The Joint Commission now requires a spiritual assessment for patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Personally, as an anesthesiologist, I have been blessed with the opportunity to comfort anxious patients with a prayer prior to their operation. Whether it is a verbal expression of appreciation on a post-op visit or a mailed thank you card, patients have extended their gratitude for this spiritual gesture on many occasions. One noteworthy occasion came when a very anxious gentleman presenting for open heart surgery had lost his will to proceed with surgery since close family members had passed away years prior on the same date. Upon discovering our common faith, his well understood apprehensions and anxieties were mitigated after a prayer. Where fear paralyzes, faith propels, and his peace eclipsed panic as demonstrated by his calm compliance to proceed as scheduled.
As healthcare professionals, the coalescing of exhaustive schedules, difficult patients and stressful circumstances can easily empty our energy tanks. God’s strength can save us from those tempting low compassion moments and allow us to soar above the winds of adversity in the milieu of a challenging medical environment. Being able to endure and sometimes even discern higher purposes in the midst of physician and patient suffering, I believe, exceeds human capacity. Though far from perfect, a keen awareness of a heavenly accountability to the ultimate Law Giver inspires faith-driven healthcare professionals to a new level of personal and moral responsibility.
Brevity forbids the extensive list of hospitals, charities, clinics and care ministries that had their embryological underpinnings inspired by Scripture commands and celebration of compassion, charity and other-oriented ethics of “love thy neighbor.” The living practical application of the Golden Rule is evident in both domestic and foreign healthcare missions to the impoverished and destitute. This benevolence to mankind can extend to present societal ills such as the epidemic of opioids, substance abuse and despair. The availability of faith and willing spiritual counsel should be a part of a comprehensive restorative program for restitution and renewal from these maladies that have claimed so many lives. For some of the despaired, knowing there is a God who unconditionally loves them may do more to heal an ailing, hurting and lonely heart that feels no sense of purpose or belonging than medications. Just as it has been shown that relapse is less in prisons with spiritual help and faith-based opportunities, its extension and vitality with present day addictions is not impertinent. I have always believed the true longings of man’s heart are ill satisfied with worldly measures.
Locally, we are entering our eighth year of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations at the Indiana University School of Medicine Fort Wayne. As campus advisor and chapter sponsor, I have observed the excitement and desires throughout our fellowships these students have to integrate their faith in their medical practice as well as being inspired to participate in domestic and foreign missions. As they mature in their faith, these students recognize not only there is more to life than money, but there is more to medicine than medications. This growth incites caring and extending themselves in meaningful ways to patient populations.
It is my hope and prayer that with the patient comfort, personal peace and community benefits of a vibrant faith, all care facilities will encourage and allow faith to be an important part of medical and community care.