As we journey with the Lord in medicine, He is always trying to expand our understanding of Him and His goodness, teaching us lessons along the way. One such occurrence happened when I was called to see a 58-year-old homeless gentleman to assist in determining the likelihood of recovery and a plan of action after he experienced an out-of-hospital, unwitnessed cardiac arrest.
When EMT staff brought him in, he had numerous poor prognostic signs, including unknown length of down time; he was markedly acidotic with pH 7.15; he had multisystem organ, kidney and liver failure and ischemic feet; his Glascow Coma Score was initially 3; and his pupils were initially unreactive.
Over a period of a few days, he had a return of pupillary response but otherwise remained in a persistent coma. I diagnosed him with a severe anoxic encephalopathy, and had an ethical dilemma on my hands as he was without any family members to assist in decision-making regarding aggressiveness of ongoing care.
As I was walking on day 3 to the room of this “anoxic patient” (as I had come to describe him), I was internally complaining to God about this difficult ethical situation when I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Treat him with respect and compassion. Talk to him.”
I realized at that moment that I had been treating this gentleman more like a problem than a person. Although he was in a coma, I went to his bedside and called out his first name. I gently explained who I was and what I was doing.
As I did so, he opened his eyes, looked directly at me and smiled! The nurse at his bedside exclaimed, “He just smiled at you!” After I completed my examination, he was able to follow complex commands. Although he did require amputation of his feet due to the severity of his hypotension and watershed ischemia, he went on to make a full neurologic recovery.
I learned several lessons that day as I unpacked what I had witnessed the Lord do:
• God can do whatever He wants, defying the odds laid out with scientific reasoning.
• He loves the lost, the destitute, the discarded. He honors life and wants us to do the same.
• His compassion and love are at the center of His power.
Repentance was at the beginning of my journey partnering with Him in supernatural healing, as I was confronted by the hidden arrogance of my belief system. I needed to repent of placing limits on Him and His power, for placing Him in the box of science, rationalism, prognostic odds and the constraints of my reasoning as well as for how easy it is to depersonalize people, especially if they have difficult problems.