Posts tagged ‘obgyn’

What Bad Things Has God Given You?

Job replied, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”    Job 2:10  

When I was an OB/GYN resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital, we had morning rounds every weekday. During this time each resident would present the history, diagnosis, and treatment of each of the patients she/he had been assigned. There were times the attending physicians (those who were ultimately in charge of all patient care) would praise us for our technical abilities or diagnostic skills. But there were many instances of criticisms from the attendings, or even worse. Once I was asked to report the very next day on endometriosis, a benign gynecologic disorder that can cause pain and infertility. My attending wanted me to outline the causes of the disease, diagnostic testing options, and the therapeutic modalities. I was up most of the night preparing this paper due the next day. It was painful. It was humiliating to be called out in front of my fellow residents. And yet it helped me to not only learn about endometriosis, but to develop the habit of doing the necessary research to benefit my patients each and every day.

Job is described in chapter 1 as a man who was blameless and a man who had complete integrity. He loved God and followed His commands in his life. We read that Job was a family man who prayed and sacrificed for his children. He had been blessed with wealth as he was selfless, hard working, and humble. And then we read that he lost his farm animals, his sheep, his workers, and his children. If such losses weren’t enough, Job then lost his health. As he sat in agony with boils covering his entire body, Job responds to the the advice of his wife to curse God with a very insightful question, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

This is a tough question. None of us ever want to receive bad things. But before I think about what it means to receive something bad from God, I think about what it was like to endure morning rounds at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Those were bad times. I dreaded the hour from 7-8am every weekday. And yet I learned to develop the intellectual discipline necessary to care for my patients throughout my career as a physician. I have even learned to accept the good with the bad from my friends which has taught me innumerable lessons about unconditional love, forgiveness, honesty, trust, and transparency that have made my life richer.

And so I resonate with Job’s rhetorical question. Some of the greatest blessings in my life have come to me when I have embraced the bad things from God. When I pray for humility, he brings morning rounds into my life. When I pray for a deeper love of humanity, he shows me the need to forgive. When I pray for insight, He uses the Word to expose my need to change a habit. And when I pray for forgiveness, he shows me how I need to confess my faults. Perhaps we should be thanking God more for the bad things He gives us than the good things!  


What is Your Source of Strength?

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”  Nehemiah 8:10

I have often been asked why I chose obstetrics and gynecology over such specialties as general surgery, family practice, or any one of a dozen other options. I usually tell people that I love surgery and primary care, which are both present in obstetrics and gynecology. But perhaps the underlying reason is that after 8 weeks of intense study in this specialty as a junior medical student, I took the final exam which was not a written exam, but an oral one. There was something about this specialty that made learning fun and exciting. I read the textbooks with interest and understanding. I attended the surgeries and births with joy and excitement  And when I walked out of that oral test that October day, I felt as if I were walking in the clouds. I was overjoyed. I was ecstatic. And I wanted to celebrate. The joy I received from knowing and understanding the medical principles of that specialty propelled me into an amazing career as an OBGYN physician.

This is exactly how the Israelites felt after returning to Jerusalem from 70 years of captivity in Babylon. They had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem before even rebuilding their own homes. Once the wall was rebuilt they asked Ezra the scribe to read the Book of the Law of Moses as they gathered at the town square. We are told they listened closely and were excited by what they heard. In fact, they were overjoyed. They couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. It was music to their ears and lit a fire in their bellies. They digested every word as they got a fresh glimpse of God’s love, concern, and power for them. No wonder Nehemiah told them to go and celebrate. Why? Because “the joy of the Lord is your strength!” 

I must admit that I have overlooked this source of spiritual strength. I haven’t thought of my emotions as being a source of anything other than perhaps understanding my thoughts and behaviors. But it makes sense. When I am filled with joy, I am ready to take on any task, overcome any obstacle, tackle any problem. But when I am filled with sadness, I am not ready for much other than avoid tasks, turning away from obstacles, and succumbing to my problems. Of course Nehemiah is not talking about just any joy. He is talking about the joy of the Lord! The source of our joy makes all the difference in the world. The joy of the Lord grounded in His Word has the power to transform our lives. 

You have heard that knowledge is power. Well, it’s true. The person with the most knowledge can answer the tough questions and solve the impossible problems, which motivates people to follow her. When we understand God’s Word as it applies in our personal lives to answer our questions and solve our problems, we are overcome with joy. When we understand God’s love and grace and how He is present with us in every situation, our joy becomes our strength. Perhaps if we celebrated God’s Word in our lives, threw a party rejoicing over His Law, ate rich foods and sweet drinks as they did at Nehemiah’s request, we just might have enough joy and strength to change the world. At the very least, we would spread cheer and happiness to everyone we would meet. 

What is your source of strength? Do you have joy? 

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