Yesterday, one of CCfB's longtime members spoke to us on the topic of vocation: specifically, the challenges of integrating his Christian faith and daily work. He is a physician, as is his wife. He spoke personally and candidly, and it was riveting. Stories of turning of machines; of saying the words, "I'm so sorry" to families in waiting room; of confronting the dilemmas of social injustice in treating the uninsured and the homeless; of struggling to resist the pressure to treat sick bodies rather than sick people.
As he spoke I thought of Jesus' healing miracles, and how Jesus must have confronted these same challenges and pressures in his ministry. So many people pressing in, demanding help. So many unsolvable problems. So much to do, and only a finite opportunity and limited options. No wonder Jesus withdrew to mountains to pray, and climbed into boats to get away from the crowds. And yet, the stories of miraculous healings demonstrate above all that Jesus never neglected to deal with people holistically: body and soul and spirit. My own theological preoccupation with embodiment has led me to think of the healing stories as emphasizing the importance of the body--which is true--and yet, the testimony from this physician reminded me that in the profession of healing there is a danger of reductionism that many fall into, and the struggle is to keep oneself open to the reality that these material bodies are people, with emotions, families, goals, fears.
And never has the metaphor of God as the Great Physician been more meaningful to me. What was once a purely intellectualized theological grasp of that metaphor has been enriched with this glimpse into what being a physician really means.