“Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27
Yesterday, I had my very first frustrations with my job as a pediatrician out on my own. I always dread Fridays. On Fridays, it seems that parents begin to panic about each of their children’s sniffles and sore tummies because the weekend is on the way, and the clinic is closed (gasp!) two days in a row. So, from the beginning, we’re adding patients onto the schedule, and before long, I’m seeing two patients per 15 minute appointment. Yesterday was no different, except that my patients parents were unusually uncooperative. I had FIVE families who refused to immunize their children. I usually at least welcome the chance to explore their fears and provide education about the safety and value of immunizations, but by the fifth one, admittedly, my patience was exhausted. I found myself gritting my teeth, pleading with families to protect their children. One mother accused me of taking kickbacks from the vaccine manufacturers and the government. She truly believes that the only reason I recommend vaccines is to fill my bank account. If that were the case, I’d be vacationing in the south of France by now. Another mother demanded to know why I wished to poison her child with immunizations which are clearly the root of all evil in this world (and the conspiracy behind the plagues of autism, cancer, the Black Death, Ebola, and the common cold). Seriously? I only spent eleven years studying to learn how to heal children. I’d hardly waste my time trying to poison them. So, I already felt like a piece of burnt toast, but a few other families came in to finish tarnishing my faith in humanity. One father canceled appointments for his two poorly-controlled asthmatic children, informing me that I’d never given them their prescriptions from their last visit (in fact, they were called-in to three different pharmacies at his wife’s request). Never mind that he and his wife smoke in the house with their wheezing children nearby. I also received a note from a dermatologist who saw one of my patients in his clinic for eczema. He informed me that the family “didn’t get along well” with me, and never picked up any of the prescriptions I’d called in for their child. He proceeded to recommend the same treatment that I had already prescribed. I had no idea that this family was unsatisfied with their treatment. They hadn’t asked questions, and they didn’t appear unsettled during the visit. In my head, I know that all of these things, refusal to immunize, failure to follow through with prescribed medications, cancelled appointments, are probably rooted in the parents’ fears, personal agendas, and understanding. I still feel like a failure, though, because it is my job to educate them about their children’s conditions to empower them to make good decisions for their children’s health. I was frustrated and angry at my inability to communicate to them what all of my education tells me is the right thing to do. That evening, I drove home hurt by their lack of trust in me. I soaked in my own self-pity. Then I heard my Lord whisper, “If you are this upset by their lack of faith in you, how do you suppose I feel when you do not trust me.” It was so quiet that I almost missed it, the still, small voice that Elijah heard. I recalled so many promises, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,” “he will give you the desires of your heart,” “your heavenly father knows that you need them . . . all these things will be given to you as well,” among others. Who am I to doubt the will of a benevolent God?
“The will of God is the gladdest, brightest, most bountiful thing possible to conceive, and yet some of us talk of the will of God with a terrific sigh– ‘Oh well, I suppose it is the will of God,’ as if His will were the most calamitous thing that could befall us . . . . We become spiritual whiners and talk pathetically about ‘suffering the will of the Lord.’ Where is the majestic vitality and might of the Son of God about that?” –Oswald Chambers