Do you ever leave the hospital wondering if you have the strength to go back?  Do you ever have patients like the ones I call ‘soul-suckers?’  These folks are black-holes of need.  Some of them are genuinely sick, but their need (and neediness) is immense.  After you finish the entire chest-pain evaluation, and are ready to send them off to see their family doctor, they look up with tired, pitiful eyes and say ‘what about all the blood in my vomit?’  ‘What about the way I pass out after my headaches?’  Or it may be, ‘by the way, I can’t see my doctor anymore and I don’t have any way home and I haven’t eaten in three days.  Can’t you admit me?’  This usually occurs as you’re about to leave work to see your family.  And with a sigh (because I know you) you do the right thing and try to work things out.

I imagine the feelings Jesus had.  We only have the stories of about three years of his earthly life, but what a three years it was!  And what lessons he left us.  We know that he felt for the ignorant, the lost and the suffering.  The Word tells us in Matthew 9:36,  ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’

No doubt, on the way to a dinner, on the way to a walk by the Sea of Galilee, someone invariably came to him (as he knew they would) and asked, ‘Jesus, will you heal me?  And by the way, my kids are sick, and the tax collector is coming next week and I haven’t caught a fish in a week and….’

He sighed and did what he knew was best for them.  And yet, we get the image at times that he was tired.  Or at least, that he needed to recharge.  He was, after all, God incarnate taking the form of fallen man in order to raise man up.  He knew our troubles and weariness because he wore them.  Just as he knew our suffering and sin because he bore them.

Jesus, unlike us, had the good sense to keep balance.  The Great Physician may be an over-used metaphor, but Jesus knew how to heal and how to withdraw.  Mark 1:35 says that ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’  How many solitary places do we seek, between work and home and hobbies and meetings?  How many times do we go off to pray, what with Facebook and Twitter and blogs and continuing education and television and texting and e-mail and movies and…all of it?

In fact, Luke 5:16 (Luke a physician like ourselves, according to Scripture) says, ‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’

And he ate and drank and celebrated.  His life was not one great series of endless activity and false-martyrdom.  He lived and rested when it was time.  He preached and healed and walked alone.  And when he died, he did it when the time was right.  And such a death…

We could all learn from this.  Medicine is a desperate activity to rescue some order in a terminally fallen, broken world.  We labor at an ultimately losing battle unless we see it from an eternal perspective.  No wonder we are tired, body, mind and soul.

So withdraw!  Take a walk, take a bath, take a bike ride.  Stop communicating for a little while.  Or talk with your children in quiet tones at bedtime, reverently, for it is almost like prayer.  Speak to God; read a prayer, say your own prayer, meditate as you drive (eyes open, please).

You are tired because the drama and suffering, true or contrived, of every patient and every person you  meet brushes off a little; a kind of heart infection.  It weighs you down.  Like Jesus, you need to be away and you need to rest if you hope to continue the battle.

He was showing us a pattern; an algorithm if you will, for the healer, the lover of human souls.  For he says to us all:  ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  Matthew 11:  29-30.

Rest friends. And pray.  And if you fall asleep praying, remember that you have simply drifted off in your Father’s arms.


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