Some of my favorite rants and tirades in emergency medicine have to do with things my patients do that are just stupid.  Years ago, I saw someone who was playing with a rattlesnake and suffered a life-altering bite.  Recently, I saw someone whose friend offered to help him with the pain of an injured hand…by injecting cocaine into it.  Once I saw a young man with part of his forearm missing…because he was ‘making firecrackers,’ aka pipe-bombs.  And of course, there was the fellow feeding his dog bacon from his own lips.

I was thinking about this the other day, and feeling superior.  I mean, look at me!  I’m a doctor who uses good judgment!  I think ahead, I plan, I never, ever do anything stupid…or do I?

I can just imagine Jesus bending over the ground, drawing in the sand, looking up at me and some other snotty, snarky doctors and saying ‘let he who has never done something stupid throw the first stone!’

My past has been replete with stupidity.  I have made dozens of bad decisions in my life, and in my work.  I have done things I will regret until the day I see Jesus in heaven.  (And all that fades away like ash.)  I have hurt my wife’s feelings, I have pushed my own agenda to the exclusion of hers, I have spoken sharply to my children, wasted precious years of friendship with my brother.  I have failed to follow-up on important things that cost me time, opportunity, friends and opportunities to witness.  I have wasted money.  The list is long, but let’s just say, I’m stupid!  I once intentionally drove 3 hours in a blizzard!

As I look at my patients, God bless them, they can be a strange lot.  And I won’t deny that they do some absolutely ridiculous things  Their lack of judgment is one of the things that made Jesus so compassionate towards the masses.

‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’  Matthew 9:35  New Living Translation.

The emergency room is full of the victims of, and participants in, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, cruelty, sexual misadventure, poor-judgment and assorted life dramas (real and manufactured).  Much of it is just, plain, stupid. But so am I.  It’s what sin, our fallen nature, does to us.  It’ s what generations of wandering in the desert of this life does to families.  It’s the result of our being so far separated from our own Good Shepherd. Perhaps this all-inclusive affliction of the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve is the reason that Jesus was so adamant about what we call one another.  He loves all his children, and desires that we love one another as well, and not hurl names and insults like stones.

‘But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.’  Matthew 5:22, New Living Translation.

So perhaps we should be more careful with our disdain, more slow in our judgment; and at least learn to love those we consider stupid the way we love ourselves…since we’re stupid too, no matter how many titles we have after our names.

And God loves us anyway.


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