St. Luke, evangelist, reporter and physician. From this site: https://reflectionsofanrscj.blogspot.com/2016_10_01_archive.html
When I communicate with Christian physicians, particularly young ones, I frequently hear them say that they feel very alone. Many work with very few fellow believers. In addition, the ‘shift-work’ nature of the specialty can make attendance at church, fellowship and participation in ministry very difficult.
It is not uncommon for believing physicians to say that they are often viewed with some disrespect or even ridicule when the subject of their faith comes up at work. There are a lot of young physicians who have grown up identifying as secular scientists, very skeptical of matters of faith; sometimes for good reasons, sometimes because they were inadequately educated in history and philosophy/theology. In their zeal for ‘evidence’ they can be hard on those who come from a faith tradition. (In a world that emphasizes diversity and multi-culturalism, it’s unfortunate that they can be so dismissive since faith is integral to the lives of billions of human beings.)
Of course, many of my connections are in the world of emergency medicine. And that can be a dark, cynical, stressful world. The chaos, the pain and addiction, the cruelty, the seeming injustice of and randomness of patients endure what physicians immerse themselves in can all easily lead to very difficult questions about the nature of God.
All of this together can make it remarkably difficult for a physician, and especially a young one, to hold to faith in God.
By way of encouragement I would say that modern, domestic medicine is its own very real mission field. And while physicians are not impoverished in their work, the job is stressful for physician and family, has a high rate of burnout and depression and can be truly haunting.
That is to say, every difficult day for a Christian physician is a day on the mission field. It may not be explicitly so, but it is nonetheless. And even if one isn’t speaking the Gospel in the surgery suite, the spirit of the risen Christ is in that physician. And the gifts bestowed by God, so that she or he can engage in good works ‘prepared for you since the beginning of the world,’ are in play. The scripture says that ‘the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.’
Furthermore, every act and word of love, kindness, patience, encouragement, all are in the service of the King. Whether directly medical or not, they matter. Likewise, prayers spoken in the car on the way to work, whispered under the breath in the clinic, spoken aloud at the bedside of patients who desire it, all matter towards the mission. Every good behavior, every good example set for students, colleagues, nurses, administrators? All are part of the service of a believer.
Hard? Of course. I was thinking of this recently as I plotted my next job. I am frustrated by some aspects of my current work. I wish it could be easier. That I could make more money for less work with less fatigue. That now, 30 years since graduating from medical school, I could kick back and be loved, respected and at ease.
Then I realized that I was, and am, where God put me. And that he never once promised it would all be easy. Or that people would like me because of what I believed. In fact, Jesus made it clear that ‘in this world you will have trouble.’ He added ‘but fear not, for I have overcome the world.’ He said if we share in his glory we will share in his suffering. That we can be expected to be hated by the world because it hated him.
So, dear doctors who follow Jesus, remember 1 Peter 4:12-13
‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed’
Around the world believers suffer terribly. They are impoverished, imprisoned, tortured, raped and killed. Our trials as physicians are not the same. But they are the trials that God gives to us, and as such we must learn to thank God for the labors he gives us. This isn’t easy. I’m a big baby at times. But I think it remains true, even as I’ll probably continue to be a complainer.
So we who are Christian physicians need to find ways to stay connected to one another and to others in the church. If we can’t make regular services, we should find church small groups that meet during the week. We can be part of online forums. (I have one for emergency physicians on Facebook, called Christians in EM.) We can start Bible studies.
Critically, we can pray and read the Word. I don’t do either nearly enough, but I hope to do better in the new year. We cannot emphasize to one another nearly enough that if we are not anchored in prayer and scripture we will struggle. I will not try to recommend a reading system to you, but will say ‘sit down, or kneel down, and read the Word. And pray. And do both in a way that does not exhaust you but keeps you coming back and learning more.
The thing is, there are so many wonderful encouragements out there! So I’d like to suggest a few authors/ books and websites that I have found useful, enriching, educational and powerful in maintaining my walk.
If one hasn’t read any C.S. Lewis, I recommend that you go and order some works by that great author. ‘Mere Christianity’ is one of the best summations of the faith ever written. It’s not a light read, but it’s important. See also The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, the essays in The Weight of Glory, The Four Loves and others.
I believe the ancient writers of the church, who endured so much, have a great deal to say to us. I have not finished Augustine’s Confessions, but I have started it. It is a goal I hope to accomplish before long. Later in history, of course, but Pascal’s Pensees is a profound discussion of faith. Loved it. I read the abridged version by philosopher and prolific author, Peter Kreeft of Boston College.
On the modern side, I have found the books and sermons of Rev. Tim Keller, of NYC, to be outstanding. He is culturally astute, widely read and Biblically orthodox. His sermons are available as podcasts.
Years ago my wife turned me on to the sermons of Rev. Tony Evans of Dallas, TX. You can’t go wrong listening to Tony online.
When I’m in the car a lot, I like Daily Audio Bible. Brian, the founder, reads the entire Bible in one year. Available as a free app. Wonderful, and also some outstanding commentary some days.
At bedtime, when I work out of town, I use the Pray app to help me sleep. It’s about prayer, but also features Bible stories read in a way to help you sleep. A pay app, but worth it in my book.
If you want to hear wonderful discussions and debates about the faith, in a way that is engaging and pleasant (and free of shouting and anger), try the podcast Unbelievable. Atheists and Christians, Muslims and Christians, Hindus and Christians? Do we have a soul? Does time move forward? Is evolution consistent with scripture? What is consciousness? You can’t go wrong.
Although I am Protestant, I love the Catholic podcast, Pints with Aquinas. Matt Fradd has other podcasts but I regularly listen to this one. I know that Matt is a true Jesus follower and he and his guests educate and encourage through the vehicle of the teachings of St. Thomas.
I use Instagram and there are so many wonderful accounts that encourage and educate me daily! Fan of the great GK Chesterton? Follow chestertonsociety. Love the Reformers? thereformedsage has a great format. Orthodox? See _orthodox_christian_ for amazing quotes and historical details of the Church fathers and martyrs. For the saints? coffeewithsaints is wonderful.
I will try to come back and recommend more in the future. I haven’t hot-linked books because you may be able to find them cheaper at used book stores or sites.
Anyway, God go with you my brothers and sisters!