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December 20, 2022

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a, NKJV).

I didn’t expect the conversation. Perhaps I should have when I noticed his sadness and asked him how he was doing. He’s 87 and fairly healthy, but he had begun to contemplate dying and was depressed about the prospect.

“I used to be a man of faith,” he said. “I was Catholic, but I let that go many years ago.”

“I think you should return to faith,” I interjected.

“I do believe in a God, a First Cause of things,” he continued.

“There’s a difference in a distant First Cause and a God who can hold you in His arms,” I said.

Most people, even secular scientists believe in a god, at least a distant one. However, distant gods are different from a personal God who cares for us and joins us in our world.

I shared with this patient my own past fear (at 30) of the “nothingness of being” that I then imagined came with death. I told him how, as I was living with that fear, I entered a life crisis where I gave up hope and fell into God’s arms. My fear of death vanished, and I can still feel those arms that caught me in my darkness.

I shared with him the story I have shared with so many.

“I was young, and it was many Christmas mornings. My father made the four of us children remain at the stop of the stairs while he assembled the huge, blinding lights on his 1950s video camera. He dictated that we wave into the camera and smile as we descended the stairs to discover Christmas under the tree behind him.

“We could not see behind those blinding lights and were never sure what we would find there, but we were not anxious or afraid. We knew not what awaited us under the tree, but we descended the stairs with joy because we knew the man behind the lights who had prepared for us that Christmas morning.

“Just so, I know a personal God and can still feel those arms that caught me on my day of darkness, arms that will be waiting for me when I move from this life to the next.

“Our God is far more than a First Cause. You need to find Him again.”

“I’ll give it a try,” he said.

Dear God,
Let me never forget the arms that caught me and are waiting to catch me again.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Patty June MD on December 20, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    It is always good to hear from you. Your description exactly matches my sister and my Christmas morning experience, except there were no stairs.

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