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Dear Lord Jesus,

I just finished my shift in the ER. Of course, you knew that.  But I was thinking about how often I’m ungrateful and irritable.  I know that I complain about rules and regulations, about time-stamps and metrics and satisfaction scores and all the rest.  I know I’m that guy.  I get annoyed by people who are annoying.  (I’m glad you don’t.)  I get annoyed when I’m tired and I get grumpy when I think I’m too busy.  I don’t appreciate the suffering all around me, or the fact that some of it is deeper than I ever realize.  I forget that so many folks I see have deep wounds, every day.  Or struggle to get that $5 prescription. That a sickness, a real one, may cost them a house.  I forget how many are abused or lonely, addicted or afraid. I’m sorry.  I am thankful that you apply your grace to my wayward, fussy, curmudgeony heart.

I also forget how fortunate I am to have this job!  I know that there are things happening I can never comprehend. That you put me here every day for a reason (as I am constantly reminded by the wonderful wife you gave me).  I know that if I can lean on you, I will touch lives every day whether I know it or not.  Perhaps with life saving medical care, perhaps with a kind word or a joke.  Maybe just by listening and letting you move through me, empty vessel that I am.

But I also want to thank you for what this job does for me.  For one, it allows me to touch so many lives.  It lets me hear so many stories so that I learn, bit by bit, what humanity is like.  Through this work of medicine you teach me the pain and struggle of so many, and how they love and need love.  I can smile at children and joke with seniors and encourage workers and students and give peace to the dying.  You are in all that.

And yet you also show me how wicked humans can be.  How wasteful of their lives and bodies. How cruel and ignorant to both strangers and loved ones.  This work leaves me no delusions that we need forgiveness.  Sinners all around, and I chief among them, but it’s a lesson our modern world would do well to remember.  Evil is.  And there are few better places to learn it than the ER.  You do not excuse me from loving them.  But you do not want me to be ignorant of them either.

Thanks, too, that I am tired.  That I walk and move and use mind and body all day. That my back and knees hurt, for that means I am alive to hurt.  That I cannot sit all day, for you know all too well that I love the food you provide…a bit too much.  (Chocolate Lord, that’s good work there….)  Thank you that I have purpose and meaning and security and income to care for my family and give back to you.  (I know, I need to give more.)  Thank you for putting me in a place where I have to learn and have to stay fit.  Thank you for placing me where I have requirements and stress and exhaustion and the joy of the struggle!

Thank you, too, for helping me to understand mortality and keep death and suffering in perspective.  I have seen enough of both to know that they are there and that we all experience them.  Some far more than others. It is a rare gift to be able to intervene.  And a gift, too, to keep them ever before my mind.

And finally, thank you that in all this I turn to you, Redeemer, as the only hope in the hopelessness, the only light in the darkness, the only explanatory power in the mystery.  That despite suffering I know you will ultimately bring comfort.  And that despite evil, you will triumph over wickedness. And that in the face of death, you overcome death with life.

I am a blessed man indeed.

‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

World without end,

Amen.’

Edwin. Your feeble doctor son.