Some Poetry for a Change

Posted November 16, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Poetry

I wrote this a couple years ago and was reminded of it recently when I went to the Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville, KY. Strange as it may seem, somehow six or so guys ended up sitting around a table late one evening taking turns reading their own poetry to each other. It was immensely fun, and it also encouraged me to continue in writing both prose and poetry.

Through the Window

I watch you through the misted, icy panes,
My face pressed firm against hard, heartless glass.
Your lips mouth words, but I hear none. They pass
Unknown but guessed, like small, soft midnight rains.
I see you through the clouded, biting pains,
My soul pressed hard against sin’s dark morass
Of guilt and shame. Soon Words amass
To rise and hold dull melancholy’s reins.
I hear the Spirit’s voice. He speaks to us;
Enunciating living Words of peace;
Proclaiming what the stifling glass obscures.
And so I watch, contented He drew us
Into this close expanse that joy increase.
For when all things have ceased, His love endures.

The Patient as Victim or Victor

Posted October 23, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Medicine, Theology

The circumstances of life are often overwhelming. Hardship and difficulty should not be peddled as the exception, but the norm. As Thomas Hobbes spoke of man in his state of nature, life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” For all our modern conveniences – television, internet, TV dinners, and lifestyle drugs – this statement still rings true: life is hard. So when a patient enters the clinic covered in the dirt of life and pocked with the wounds of circumstance, should we be surprised?

Circumstances will always affect us, but they must never define us. The physician who sees his patient as impacted by life’s tragedies exercises clear vision, but the doctor who chains his patient to his or her status quo is only a warden of misery. It’s tempting to leave the point here because everyone would agree. It’s often our applications, however, that point out our disagreements. For instance, the early teenager who comes in pregnant and admits to refusing to tell her parents, preferring to rather get an abortion, can be pointed in one of two main directions. First, she can be reassured that she is a victim and encouraged to follow through with her deception and intrigue. Second, she can be reminded of God’s grace and mercy and uplifted to rise above her circumstances to choose what is right rather than what is easy. When it comes to life’s circumstances, which are perhaps the largest factor of disease, are we casting our patients as victims or as victors, bound to circumstances or freed by grace, as sums or as inputs?

Fear and Morality

Posted October 6, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Medicine, Theology

Gospel based medicine is driven by hope, not fear. The ethic of modern medicine is shaped by fear – fear of what could happen, fear of a lawsuit, fear of missing something, fear of failure, fear of fear itself. There is no true hope in such a practice of medicine. For where fear lives, hope lies dead. When we begin to make our moral decisions based off fear, we have already capitulated to fear. But what else is to be expected from a practice of medicine that has written off God? God is the source of all true hope – Jesus Christ.

Fear ought to have little standing in moral judgments. It drives us not towards what is right and true. Rather, it puts hooks in our noses so that we might be pulled on a chain by our own and others’ comforts. Its twisted nature is such that with each pull of the chain and our subsequent, ease-driven accommodation, we are drawn nearer and nearer to an end that is far more fearful than any temporary suffering. The present is always closer to our minds than the future.

There is an irony in this. For it is often contended that Christians have a slavish fear of God’s judgment. We are decried as the fearful. This is simply not so, and it is a misunderstanding of what fearing God is. Scripture appeals to men’s fears not to take advantage of them but that men might be freed from devotion to terror. Christ offers men hope, a hope that someday all things will be made right, that there is a life worth living, a truth worth having, a love worth giving; that doing good out of a love for God, who is good, and a love for men, who need God, the Great Good, is in itself good, regardless of the contemporary estimation of all others; that Christ is the covering for all our failures, the dispelling of all our fears, and the securing of our bright and blessed future. This is hope and light.

You may keep your fear if you must, or as I see it, you may be content that it keeps you. But I will hope, and in God’s grace, that hope will bear me up. And in my hope, I will offer to my patients the same hope, that they also might be free.

Random Thought

Posted October 6, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Medicine

If our medical ethic reduces to expect the best and plan for the worst, then we at least ought to be consistent and live our lives wearing Kevlar.

Two Good Articles

Posted October 3, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Uncategorized

I read these today and thought them both thoroughly refreshing. Enjoy.

Even the Rocks.

Nothing Left to Covet.

Change and the Gospel

Posted October 2, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Medicine, Theology

Medicine, particularly preventive medicine, requires a change in heart, not just a change in mind. But changing hearts is an impossible business. Thus, medicine has developed all sorts of behavioral models to facilitate change. Yet when it boils down to it, there is only one way that any meaningful, lasting change is possible: Jesus Christ. If we genuinely believe that illness is the result of the fall, then the only true solution to illness is found in reversing the curse that fell upon our fathers and upon us. Such a reversal comes by means of the Gospel, the good news that God has come in Jesus Christ and borne the curse for us that we might be restored to Him. There is no other way. And thus the Gospel is key to lasting change for the better as relates to how we think about, use, and attempt to heal our bodies.

Medicine as a Theological Endeavor

Posted October 1, 2010 by Daniel
Categories: Medicine, Theology

Medicine is an essentially theological endeavor. It is an everyday encounter with the depth and extent of the fall, broad as space and deep as the oceans. It is the daily exercise of God’s grace, healing, reviving, restoring, and making all things new. There would be no medicine apart from the cross. The only reason we can work to heal the effects of the curse and wage war against all its havoc is because Christ came, died, and rose again, conquering once and for all our bondage to the despair and destruction of our sin with its drastic consequences. Therefore, as ambassadors on Christ’s behalf, we go into the hospitals, the clinics, the communities, with a cross on our shoulders and the dust of our savior’s tread falling upon us, seeking to walk in the way in which He walked that we might also, through the work that He has accomplished, bring grace and love to bear on a broken, dying world.