I also had no idea.
The patient suffered from depression, anxiety and exhibited a deep distrust of all authority figures, including doctors. She was brought in by her mother, clearly distressed but not particularly keen on talking to anyone. It did not look like a promising scenario.
I would love to say that my amazing consulting skills opened up the conversation, but that probably wasn’t the case. I would love to say that I intentionally took authority over the spiritual atmosphere and drove out fear, but again that wasn’t how it went. If I did pray at all it was only along the lines of “Oh Lord, I don’t know what to do…..”
But then something changed. The patient calmed down and the atmosphere in the room changed. She began to look a little confused, then turned to her mother and said, “why do I feel really peaceful?” This was followed by her pointing at me and saying, “why do I feel like I can trust him?”
The peace of heaven had just invaded the room. It turns out God knew how to help. The sense of change in my consulting room was quite remarkable. It took the patient by surprise, and I must confess, came as a surprise to me too!
The consultation then proceeded, we worked out a plan for treatment and follow up. The patient engaged well with treatment and I became her regular doctor from that point on. There were still ups and downs over the years, but she always knew there was someone who she felt safe with.
Reflecting on the consultation afterwards, God highlighted how we have the ability to release peace where previously there has been fear and distress.
2 Thessalonians 3 v 16 says, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
He is the Lord of Peace, and we carry his presence with us wherever we go. We can expect that peace to overflow and affect those around us. I believe, we can learn to actively influence our environment with the wonderful peace of heaven.
Since that day, I have considered it part of my job to bring peace to my workplace. I do it for the benefit of staff, patients and also myself. I’m completely happy that some of my motivation for this, is that a peaceful surgery makes for a more pleasant working environment! I don’t try to work out how much of the effect is directly from Holy Spirit and how much is good consulting skills or good leadership. I value of all of them, good medical practice working alongside the spiritual dynamic that I know I can bring to the situation.
The busier we get, the greater the temptation is to feel anxious and to focus on only getting our workload done without being mindful of what else is going on in our workplace. May I suggest, the busier things get, the more we need to consider how we bring peace into the situation.
An experienced colleague of mine once told me his strategy for how to manage a busy day as Duty GP. He told me that the busier it gets, the more important it was that as Duty GP you took more time to make sure the staff felt reassured, rather than focussing purely on your ever-growing list of patients. His theory was that busy and stressed people made bad decisions. Staff will tend to feel more rushed and have a tendency to be inefficient. Rather than taking the time to think through whether there is an easy way for them to help with a patient query, they will feel rushed and look for a way to just move the problem on, such as, putting it on the list for the Duty GP to sort out! My colleague reckoned that by taking 15 minutes to walk round the surgery, making sure everyone felt supported and not panicked, he saved himself 2 hours work. Staff enjoyed working with him and felt calmer and less overwhelmed.
Imagine that, but multiplied, when the activity of heaven is involved in the equation. What a privilege to be able to bring peace into high-pressure environments. We can all be people who make a positive change in our workplace, who drive out anxiety by bringing the peace of God.
Dr Dave Carter, Heaven in Healthcare Team
Watch this week’s episode of ‘In Real Life’, in which Pete Carter and Kamiji share about the power of knowing who you are.