The story of how I ended up in medicine is an odd one.  I won’t go there now, but on the eve of Thanksgiving, I’ll tell you that I’m ever so thankful that I did.  Medicine is a job, like every other.  And it is a calling, I’m convinced of that.  Not everyone can do it.  Not even everyone who goes to medical school can do it.  But for whatever reason, God gave me the opportunity and the ability, and I’m glad He did.

I’m thankful that my job allows me to care for my family.  I can feed and clothe them, keep them healthy, take them on vacations, buy occasional gifts for them and not have to constantly struggle, or wonder when my job will end.  Medicine, as financial security, is a great thing for my family.

I’m thankful that I can meet and know people from all walks of life.  I’d rather not see them naked, but that comes with the territory.  Still, the practice of medicine allows me to touch and speak with so many men and women, boys and girls.  It makes me more human, more fully human, to know the needs, desires, joys and suffering of my fellow men and women.

I understand different jobs and their requirements.  I have seen into the eyes of those who work on the line in factories, those who teach, dig ditches, fly jets, care for children at home, repair cars, arrest felons, rob stores and every other imaginable career and ‘career.’  Medicine has been my window into thousands of different lives and ways of living.  I’m thankful for that.
I may come home tired, but at least I know I have the fatigue of work, not wasted time or sloth.  I may come home frustrated, but I know it was because I struggled to do the right thing.  I may come home laughing or sad, but neither is because I wasted my day on trivialities.  When I work, I do useful things for needful people.  It’s more than just work excuses and Lortab, you know!  (Even if that’s what it seems like some days).

And as my faith grows, as my heart gets soft and broken with age, as I hear my Master speaking more clearly with the passing years, I grasp more fully what I am doing.  As a physician, I’m caring for the vehicle of God’s incarnation, the body of man, in which dwells an immortal soul.  I’m caring for a being made in the image of infinite God.  I’m treating and helping a being unique, as far as we know, in the whole vast universe.

I’m charged with the care of God’s highest creation.  It is my job to keep humans healthy, to ease their suffering and pain, to keep them functioning so that they can do the will of their Creator, or at least find their stumbling way to Him before eternity swallows them up with their last heart-beat, their last sighing breath. As it will each of us, physician and non-physician alike.

And finally, I’m thankful for all the stories.  Without medicine, I could never write the way I do.  Don’t get me wrong; being a husband and father is fantastic training for a writer, and would have sufficed if that was what God had chosen for me.  But medicine, like war, is an immersion in humanity in ways no other profession can approximate.

I have learned the way we speak through untold thousands of conversations; I have known the pulse, both thready and strong; I have heard the breath, the wheeze, the gasp.  I know the misery of depressed minds and the sorrow of sudden grief.  I have enjoyed the victory of life saved, the inevitability of life that slipped through my grasping hands.

I’m thankful for medicine.  It has shaped me in way I never imagined.

I hope that all physicians can learn to appreciate it the same way.  It is a gift of the highest order.

Happy Thanksgiving!  God bless you richly today and always.

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