“It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.” Acts 28:8-10 (NRSV)
There was a long time in my life when I absolutely hated to go to the doctor! Dr. Guess delivered me and saw me through various childhood illnesses. I associated pain with going to see Dr. Guess and Dr. Little as I was given shots when I visited my family physician and dentist. The exception was Dr. Lipscomb, who was my optometrist and was so caring throughout the examinations and fitting me with eyeglasses. When I learned going to summer camp required going to the doctor for a physical examination, I decided I didn’t want to go. Staying home for the summer seemed a much preferable alternative than going to the doctor’s office!
As I grew older, I could not escape some mandatory physicals. In time I saw Drs. Burchell, Futrell and Jones as well as dentists, Drs. McGhee and Stubbs, and optometrists/ophthalmologists, Drs. Rigsby, Race and Salomon. All of them were fine and caring medical professionals and by then my high anxiety about visits to doctors had moderated considerably as I had grown into adulthood. I had truly grown to appreciate these fine physicians and the care that they extended to me.
In my life I feel very blessed to have come to know two doctors who have been more than doctors. In Pearisburg, Virginia, I was a patient of Dr. Olson for the twelve years I lived there. When moving to Winter Haven, outside of the members of my congregation, I knew he was the person I would miss the most. What I most appreciated about Dr. Olson and his staff is that after my “sick” visits they followed up with a telephone call to inquire how I was getting along.
Fortunately Dr. Threlkel suggested a doctor here in Winter Haven when I was seeking a physician. He recommended Dr. Perez to me. Except for the 2-3 years Dr. Perez was out of the area, he has been my physician. What I most appreciated about Dr. Perez is that during my eight day hospitalization at Heart of Florida last year, he visited me in the hospital every day except one. I was and am so grateful for his attentiveness and care. I have truly been blessed to know Drs. Olson and Perez not only as trusted physicians, but as genuine friends. I am very grateful for the doctor-patient relationship we have enjoyed as well as a caring friendship.
In our scripture lesson Paul heals one man, the father of Publius, and the good news of his medical care spreads so that Paul becomes a physician to many. This story reminds me of the one in Mark’s Gospel where our Lord Jesus Christ cures Simon’s mother-in-law’s fever and then word spreads so that many people appear at Simon’s door to be restored to health again. Truly Jesus Christ is the Great Physician and in this story He worked through the Apostle Paul to restore others to good health. Our Lord continues to work today through medical doctors!
O Great Physician, we thank You that You are the One who heals us of our diseases and binds up our wounds. We also thank You that You choose doctors to be instruments of Your healing. Bless all physicians and nurses as they care for those who are sick, injured or in pain. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.