Originally published in Denison Forum
Dagmar Turner is a fifty-three-year-old violinist. She recently played sections of compositions by Mahler and Gershwin. That would be impressive enough. What makes her concert far more amazing is that she did so while surgeons worked to remove a tumor from her brain.
The tumour was located near the area of her brain responsible for controlling her left hand. Fearing the loss of forty years of musical craft, the neurosurgeon asked her to play while he operated. In this way, his team was able to remove 90 percent of the tumor without damage to her motor functions.
“The violin is my passion; I’ve been playing since I was ten years old,” the grateful patient later told reporters. “The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking.”
Partnering with the Great Physician
Such expertise and creativity by a neurosurgeon and his team are both noteworthy and unsurprising. In my years as Resident Scholar for Ethics with Baylor Scott & White Health, I have encountered many such professionals who are committed to medical excellence as well as the best patient outcomes.
I have become convinced that medicine is indeed ministry. Just as the Great Physician healed bodies to heal souls, so doctors, nurses, and other care providers meet physical needs as an extension of God’s love for us all. Whether medical professionals know God personally or not, he knows them personally. And he uses the gifts he has given them to bless their patients out of his unconditional grace.
If you’re facing physical suffering today, know that the same One who healed “every disease and every affliction among the people” stands ready to help you as well (Matthew 4:23). All that he has ever done, he can still do. He works medically and miraculously as we trust him for his timing and our best.
When he does not heal us physically, he redeems what he allows in ways we may comprehend on this side of heaven or we may not. But one day we will understand what we cannot understand on earth (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12).
If you’re caring for those who suffer, know that your vocation is indeed a divine calling. Your hands are Jesus’ hands, your work an extension of his in our world (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27). Every need you meet is an expression of his grace.
We don’t have to play the violin or perform surgery on those who do to join God at work in his world. Your next act of faithful service will plant trees you’ll never sit under and echo in eternity.
Whose need can you meet by God’s grace today?