All of us are doctors. All of us give our diagnoses. All of us recommend effective treatment. And all of us are right. Let’s be honest, as well-intentioned Christians, aren’t we pretty much experts in our field? –knowing with utmost certainty everyone else’s sin, suffering, and pain, any precursing causes, accompanying symptoms, what scans or tests should be ordered, what environmental or experiential factors can be ruled out, and where persons ought to begin educating themselves for the rough road of recovery? Yes. Here’s the point where we’re most practiced–so and so’s suffering from this; here’s what they should do. We even weigh in on the most complicated cases from time to time. And on this point, I tell you I’m far from being extreme.
Only a day ago, perhaps even today, perhaps everyday, you and I share with someone a complicated instance or intimate experience that weighs heavy on our heart–a struggling marriage, an estranged child, a sick friend, a tensious interaction, a hidden sin, a buried distrust of God and his goodness. We are no more than a few words or a few tears into our confession and someone is already dialing up a wholistic remedy that will surely take away our pain and mitigate any lasting effects. The feeling is emptying. We can hardly escape. And now I can hardly escape this paragraph without committing the very offense I aim to expose. I am (perhaps we both are) just as easily either party in my example. I have been worked over by friends, family, and well-intentioned Christians without having been truly heard, understood, accepted and loved. In turn, I have done the same–sought answers, considered solutions, offered counsel, and maintained confidence, all without engaging any sense of bedside manner.
In fact, we do not have license to practice spiritual medicine. Not on others. Not on ourselves. For one thing, whether pastor, leader, prayer warrior, or long time Christian, we are not so good as we suppose at identifying underlying issues. Christ Jesus, who sees his patients not under a microscope of judgment but through a lens of compassion, has adequately dealt with what really ails us. And besides, so much of our heavenly Father’s care plan for this world is intimately tethered to time, patience, rest, surrender, and perhaps eventually, a few feeble steps with the aid of crutches. The immediacy of Jesus’ miraculous wonders here on earth were not a prescription for how healing occurs but that healing does occur. This is what we truly fail to see.
So we’re not doctors after all. Our situational and relational diagnoses are nearly bankrupt. We’re not always right about those around us. Even less so about ourselves. Still, in light of these realities and the even more severe realities of sin, sickness, hurt and pain, we are not rendered helpless or hopeless. We are the body of Christ the bible says. We are the hands and feet, the head and heart of Him who heals all wounds. For whoever has any measure of faith, we know the Great Physician will be along shortly. In the meantime, we have tremendous charge to attend the long-term care of those whose lives are dropping out from under them. What an underestimated privilege it is to intently listen, to truly hear unbelief, to remain vigilante without seeing notable progress, to confidently hope when no real change is detected, to rest assuredly when awkward silence is deafening, to enduringly endure when the Healer himself is seemingly delayed. As I said previous, we can hardly escape. And we are not as good as we suppose at seeing what God sees, including how incredibly grieved He is over those harsh, misguided judgments we rail, above all else, against ourselves. For we are not dumb sheep. We are beloved lambs. Oh what the Son of God has left behind to come find us.
“Come to Me” Jesus says, “all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11.