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Reasons to Get Up in the Morning

May 26, 2020

Sunset with hands making the shape of a heartBy Dr. B*, serving in Central Asia

I am a teacher of family medicine. Which is to say that I am a family doctor who teaches family medicine residents in training. I am a board-certified specialist who has been in practice for over 30 years. And the four residents that are currently rotating with us at our family medicine clinic are in their first year of specialty training after medical school. Two of them follow the local Muslim tradition and two of them are Christians.

Today I was talking to the residents about a patient that I had just seen with a diagnosis of depression. I explained to them that depression is a serious illness that can in some cases lead to the death of the patient (suicide) if left untreated. We talked a bit about the value of medication and of counseling as ways to help patients out of the dark place in which they sometimes find themselves. “In the end,” I said to the residents, “the patient needs to find a reason to get up in the morning. In fact, we all need a reason why we should not simply stay in bed and let the day go on without us.”

One of the residents (not a believer) said to me, “Dr. B, what is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning?” I was amazed. I looked at the residents, whom I knew to be followers of Jesus Christ, and they looked back at me with a smile and a look, as if to say, “Go ahead, tell her!”

And so, I began by saying, “I am a Christian. I believe that there is a God in heaven who loves us. But more than that He desires to be in a relationship with us.”

I went on to ask, “You are Muslim, right?” The resident nodded.  “You believe in God (Allah), right,” I continued. The resident affirmed the statement. “And you believe that there will be life after death, correct?” Again, she agreed.

So, I went on to explain how this life is a terminal condition. No matter who your doctor is, you will die one day, some of us sooner than others. Our life on this earth is short, and then we will be in heaven forever.

“What is the local word for heaven?” I asked. “Rai,” she responded.

“Besides us, who else will be in heaven?” I asked.

“God/Allah,” she responded.

“And who else?” I asked.

The resident seemed confused.  “Other people,” I responded. “Lots of other people. Millions, maybe billions of other people,” I said.

Now I turned to the Christian residents and asked, “What are the two greatest commandments in the Bible?”

“Love God and love your neighbor,” they responded.

“Yes!” I said. “This life is but a moment in time compared to a life that goes on forever in heaven. Our purpose now is to prepare ourselves and others for that time when we will be with God and His people in heaven. We need to learn to love God and to love people, so that we will be ready to live forever in heaven.”

The (Muslim) resident then asked, “But what if there are people there that you do not like? What if there are people there that do not like you?”

“Let’s think about that,” I said.  “Sometimes we offend others, sometimes they offend us. Most times, we do not mean to. But there are other times when we do want to hurt others, because we are so angry with them.”

“I have worked with geriatric patients who are close to dying,” I explained.  “When people come to the end of their lives, there are four important things that they must say:

  1. I am sorry.
  2. I forgive you.
  3. I love you.
  4. Goodbye.

“But we are not perfect people. We do not always get it right. We sometimes miss opportunities.  And this is what Jesus does for us, He makes it right. He forgives those who are sorry for what they have done. He helps us to forgive others. He makes it possible to love in a way that is not selfish or controlling. And when we say, ‘Goodbye,’ we know that we will see Jesus and the people who love Him in a new heaven and new earth.”

“That is my reason for getting out of bed in the morning!”  I said. 

 

*name withheld for security