A recent article, entitled 'Embarrassment at the Doctors' by Dr Rob Hicks, published on the BBC Health online, asks the question: How many times have gone to see your GP, and left without asking about what's really worrying you...?
Put yourself in John's shoes for a moment:
You are at home. You are worried. Why? You are not exactly sure. What you do know is that the feeling of panic is real.
It is close to 10pm. You pace around the room, which happens to be the only room you have. Now you realise that you also have a sore throat. You decide to go out.
You call your doctor and get put through to receptionist at the out of hour's doctor's service, who invites you to the clinic. As you meet the doctor on call you tell him that you have a sore throat.
"A sore throat?", he replies, seemingly bewildered if not bemused by the fact you chose to show up at the emergency centre at such an hour, merely for a sore throat. You feel slightly awkward about this yourself, but, for some reason, you want to stay.
OK, a quick check of the throat and you are ready to be sent home with some reassurance and advice.
"These days we are so involved and occupied with the here-and-now and the tangible, the things we can understand with our five senses, that we have almost forgotten that our 'sixth sense', a spiritual dimension exists," insists Dr Bankart. "When faced with what many counsellors and psychologists call 'deep pain' individuals therefore attribute it to something physical. As a result, they may feel they need to eat more, drink more, and fill their lives with money. They may feel they have a weight on their heads (typical symptoms) or pain in their backs."
When the WHO talks about 'divine love', one wonders what or whom they are thinking of. It is in our daily work, that God can often present us with an opportunity to share His love and compassion. In any case, the emptiness felt by those who do not know the love of God can many times be the driving force behind the decision to consult a doctor. When thinking of going out to share the gospel, we, so often, think of 'going to the ends of the earth' and forget that the mission's journey begins at home in our own neighbourhood, with our colleagues, customers, and with our patients.
Christian doctors throughout the UK and in other countries have the privilege or experiencing this reality day by day. When Jesus referred to 'all those who are thirsty come unto me and drink,' he knew that there would be times in our lives that we would feel dried out, without strength in ourselves, seeking an answer to our inner thirst. At times, our situations might be so overwhelming that we do not know where to turn other than the ones who care for our physical well being.
A few years ago, one of the patients at Putnoe Medical Practice, a Hindu lady, came to the surgery in great distress. Her son had just gone to prison and she did not know what to do. She was put on antidepressants, but did not take them. She went back to the surgery wanting to know what to do next. The doctor offered to pray. She accepted and was touched by a sense of peace. She then kept coming back, every two to three weeks, for a 'prayer top up'. After a year, the doctor in question thought it might be helpful to her to arrange for a friend to watch the Jesus film with her. In spite of opposition and threats from her Hindu family, she turned to Christ. Her joy and peace was obvious. Jesus had changed her life. Finally, her entire family became Christians and were all baptized together.
Certainly people will not always want prayer. They might not want to know about Jesus. However, we might never know unless we dare to look beyond the exterior and ask "why are you really here?"