Some years ago I knew a much loved family doctor. And one thing I remember about him was that every so often I would see him sat at the back of church during the funeral of one of his patients. I once asked him why he was there and he told me it was his way of saying sorry. It was his way of trying to make sense of it all. “Medicine always catches me out”, he said.
And I think this is why everyone was so fond of him. It was because he didn`t pretend that he had all the answers. Although he knew his stuff he was honest and humble enough to let us know that sometimes there was nothing he could do.
He knew how easy it is to claim a certain God-like superiority when you`ve got all those modern medicines and technology behind you. And he knew how often we expect our doctors to work miracles. But he asked his patients to be realistic about the limits of medical science.
Now I found his attitude really refreshing. But of course it`s easy to talk about realism when it`s not your loved one that is suffering or needs that life-saving operation isn`t it? I mean we want someone to DO something about it don`t we?
And it`s always been this way. One of the interesting things about Jesus is that almost everywhere he went one of the main things people brought to him and expected of him was healing. They wanted him to do something. The Bible stories of a blind man who shouted, `Jesus, son of David, have pity on me` and the man who pleaded with Jesus to lay hands on his dying daughter are people just like you and me. And they teach us an awful lot about praying.
People so often tell me that God felt especially close to them in a difficult time. And my guess is that that`s because heart-rending situations force us to be honest. It`s painful to realise that there are none of us- not even our doctors- who are fully in control. And that we don`t have all the answers.
So I wonder what person or situation you would want to bring to God today?
And how might you be the answer to someone`s prayer?
The example of Jesus shows us that we have a God who hears and understands our need and he promises to be with us come what may.
And it`s important never to underestimate the gift of compassion.
The way we care for and support one another and the work our doctors do are just some of the ways God does something about it.
(Broadcast on Lakeland Radio 1 September 2013)