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Working Hard, Making Beauty

November 23, 2021

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it’…And it was so” (Genesis 1:11, NIV).

I got my work week finished by noon Saturday, and then it was my wife Becky’s turn. We drove to a garden store because she wanted a water plant for our backyard. The water-flower section was closed on weekends, so we wandered through the other floral opportunities. I know nothing about flowers, but my wife listened when I said, “I like that one.” We came home with four beautiful plants to place in our backyard. I had chosen three striking Cyclamen: one royal red, one white and one violet with white edges. Becky added one coral Begonia. Two other Begonias and four Autumn Ferns were waiting to join them in the back corner of our yard. Becky showed me where she wanted them placed. “Go for it,” she said. The ground was covered with tiny roots everywhere. My back felt the work. I finished with a good sweat and declared, “It was good.” She then offered me the planting of 18 Pansies around a tree in the front yard. Thank God the dirt was soft, and I could do it with a hand trowel. Lots of good fishing worms came up with the planting, but I know little about fishing.

I finished the work, and the flowers were beautiful. I was physically tired and emotionally invigorated.

That afternoon I worked hard and made something beautiful—it was really good for me after a week of highly stressful medical work. Working hard physically and creating beauty is one of the most positive ways I can imagine to combat burnout from long weeks of patient care. “Work hard and make something beautiful” ought to be a prescription for every worn-out healthcare professional, more likely to help than efforts to simply escape. The joy we gain from this work of creating good might just come from touching the image of God within us.

In Life Without Lack, Dallas Willard wrote, “God created us in his image; he created us with the power to act and to create…We are put here on earth, and we are given bodies so we can work to bring more good into existence.”

“Work hard and make something beautiful.”

As I think about it, I’m not so sure this prescription should be selectively written for times away from work. What if we really saw our jobs as bringing more good into existence? What if we saw the hours dedicated to our patients as working hard and making beauty?  Perhaps, when we strive to create beautiful lives from broken patients, we might also encounter within ourselves the image of God, and thus find His joy. If I could truly grasp this extraordinary notion, perhaps the same emotional invigoration I gained from planting Pansies, Begonias, Cyclamen and ferns would sweep over me as I walk into my next exam room.

Dear Father,
Let me be more like You and focus my work on bringing good into Your world.

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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