When The Healers Need Healing
Last week I came across a blog post titled The Dark Side of Doctoring written by a Doctor name Eric Levi. It is an eye opening post that has since gone viral and shared across the medical professional community. He begins by addressing the heart breaking suicide death of Dr. Andrew Bryant, a gastroenterologist, and continues his blog post by sharing a few factors that have thrown himself personally into “dark pits of despair” throughout his years working as a surgeon. His post garnered a great number of support and agreement from health care professionals throughout the nation. Many shared similar sentiments with Dr. Levi in regard to feeling a lost of control in their days, a lack of a good support system around them, and frustrations over a broken healthcare system.
According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an estimated 300 to 400 physicians die by suicide a year. Sadly, that is easily one physician a day. I also found on Medscape, that ” Of all occupations and professions, the medical profession consistently hovers near the top of occupations with the highest risk of death by suicide.” “Sadly, although physicians globally have a lower mortality risk from cancer and heart disease relative to the general population (presumably related to knowledge of self care and acess to early diagnosis), they have a significantly higher risk of dying from suicide, the end stage of an eminently treatable disease process. Perhaps even more alarming is that, after accidents, suicide is the most common cause of death among medical students.” Read more here.
I have often seen tired lines surface around Dr J’s eyes but often just attribute those lines to the long hours he had to physically work, and nothing a good sleep can’t cure. As I pondered at the statistics on my laptop screen, while simultaneously scrolling through the comments left on Dr. Levi’s blog post, I realized that those same tired lines around the eyes of other doctors and medical professionals who have treated me in the past may be much more than lines caused by mere fatigue. Those tired lines could easily be lines of great emotional turmoil, prolonged isolation, immense pressure, biting frustrations, or worse, deep deep hopelessness..the kind that drives one to loose the will to live.
In a nutshell, after reading Dr. Levi’s post and a number of comments from people in the same shoes, I realized more clearly than ever before how human doctors and all medical professionals really are. The population that our society goes to for help is actually a population that needs a lot of help themselves. The professionals that we tend to attributes healing with, is actually a group that greatly needs to be healed themselves. As a Christian, I am addressing the spiritual healing of a broken soul only Jesus Christ can heal.
I am not dismissing the benefits of medical professionals personally seeking supportive communities, going to counseling, or taking longer vacation days, but at the end of the day these remedies people turn to to soothe their tired lines around their eyes have only temporary effects. The reality is, just like you and I, medical professionals at the core are humans weighed down by the common curse of sin. The same kind of hopelessness that ravage souls. The same kind of despair that blinds one from seeing the light. The same hardened hearts unable to accept the Gospel truth without the work of the holy spirit. The same inclination to place his or her identity in the work that they do, and ultimately their same need for a perfect sinless savior to reconcile them to a holy God. Just like you and I, God longs to whisper into the hearts of these healers the promise of hope. During their darkest moments, God desires for them to remember that a time will come when He will ” wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4
So what part do we play in all this you may ask?
I believe it starts with praying. Praying for our medical professionals intentionally and asking the Lord for opportunities to make the most out of each hospital visit. Although our physical bodies may be ailing, and outwardly wasting away, “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16.
As they treat our physical needs, let us pray for the opportunity to address their spiritual need and share the hope that we have. Behind the white coats, the stethoscopes, the latex gloves, the charts, lie many hurting souls waiting and needing to hear the message of hope. What a perspective change it is, knowing that even as a patient, the hospital could be a mission field.
The next time we go to the hospital for whatever reason, I pray that the Lord would open our eyes to see our doctors as more than the ones diagnosing us, to see our nurses as more than the ones changing our IVs, to see our dentists as more than just cavity filling and giant headlamps, to see our optometrists as more than just “one or two”, to see our pharmacists as more than the ones filling our medications, and to truly “see” all the many medical professionals I have not listed here.
And to all the medical professionals who have accepted the Gospel message, I pray that the Lord would use YOU to be a bright light amongst your colleagues.