Dr. of Hope

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 10:54 PM

Almost to the day three years ago I handed Gracie, my three and a half year old, off to surgeons for heart surgery. I will never forget her face as she looked back at us from the arms of a nurse who was taking her to surgery. Thanks be to God and a group of gifted doctors she came through that surgery brilliantly, I know it does not always end that way. From day one Gracie has provided many lessons to the Harris family.

Gracie has taught us much and much of that lesson has come from the people who care for her. The day she was born a doctor came and told my wife while she was alone that it looked like Gracie was born with Down syndrome. We did not expect the news and the way he announced it did not come with a great deal of compassion. His bed side manner was not one of caring and compassion but of ‘fact delivery’.

Which brings us to the next doctor we dealt with. A nice man who obviously knew what he was doing. He had the unenviable job of confirming the pervious diagnosis. He did not pull any punches either and told us exactly what we needed to know about the present and gave us a little news to take with us about the future. A person needs the truth but they need hope as well, if it is available, it is almost always available. According to these first two doctors the present did not look good and the future looked worse.

We had a sick child, with a diagnosis we knew little about and a family of six other children to consider. Our plates were full; thankfully God sent support other than doctors to help us walk through those first days, without that help we would not have made it. But we still had to deal with doctors; that is when God sent the doctor of hope.

After the first week a nurse befriended us and grew to love our family. She knew we were not excited about the doctor that was treating Gracie. We had never been in the NICU setting before and did not know there were options.

This nurse knew all the doctors in the NICU and so she made a move that has changed our life dramatically, she had us moved to a new doctor. This doctor knew all the facts the others knew, he quickly was on top of Gracie’s situation but from that moment on there was a new spirit and new attitude. It was one of hope for the future and for the short term. It was one of your baby is special and important to me. The difference was not in what the doctors understood it was in how they communicated it. (Christians pay attention to that sentence)

This doctor has been with Gracie for these three and a half years now. He knows her, takes time for her and grills Kim and me over how we are going to take care of her in the years to come. He holds us accountable for taking good care of Grace and we appreciate and share his concerns. We are a team of people who care for Gracie.

He talks about the future in positive terms. We know she will have special needs, she will need special attention and that at times her abilities will be limited. We also know she can light up a room; she is the most popular person at church and among our friends. We know she has taught our family how to love in a new way and we know that God has great plans for her in the future.

Fortunately our doctor of hope has helped us to focus on those positive elements as opposed to the less positive ones while keeping our focus on her needs. Trust me that can be done.

No matter what your job or where you go in this world you have a choice. You can either be a person who hands out disappointment, despair and hopelessness or you can be a person who is a provider of love, hope and peace. You will be one or the other.

Certainly we as Christians are called to communicate in a Christ like manner here are some tips I learned from the doctor of hope:

  1. When we deal with people, remember they are people. Read the Gospels and you will find that Jesus was a very personal God dealing with each pain as if it were his own. In a world where people feel like just another number a personal touch goes a long way. The truth does have to be dealt with but it can be dealt with in a compassionate way. This is where our personal experience of pain, hurt or disappointment can help us to convey empathy.
  2. There are almost always options. Be an option person, if there are obstacles in front of you look for a way around them. We tend to see things from a short term and narrow perspective. Our doctor of hope kept giving us the facts then working on the options, it gave us hope. He never gave up on us or Gracie. We as people tend to give up on folks and situations too quickly.
  3. There is always a bigger picture. When in crisis mode we tend to see only the smaller view, help others see the bigger picture and they can find hope for the days ahead. Ask yourself how is God working here.
  4. God is in control. If God is in control and he has a plan then that can help us to have the peace and hope that comes from knowing he is there.

No matter what job, position or volunteer post I have ever held I have always run across people who desperately needed hope. We live in a world filled with pain and Christ has sent us into the world to be his missionaries of hope and love.

From one doctor to the next while in the NICU little changed physically; Gracie still had Down syndrome, she still had trouble breathing and she still had issues eating.

So what changed? What changed was the perspective from which we dealt with it and the attitude of those serving us. Pay close attention to that last sentence and you too will be a doctor of hope.

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us as we deal with the hurting world around us to be most like you. Help us to set aside our selfish and self centered tendencies and see the world from your eyes. We thank you for your love and care for us and we ask these things in the name of Christ who loves us so, Amen.