Caring for the Sick: A Physician’s Perspective

Anne Borik, M.D.

As a medical physician, this is a topic that is very near and dear to me. In fact, I have spent more than half of my life in higher education and medical school learning how to care for the sick.  But today, what I am going to talk about is not taught in medical school but rather is about empathy and love. 

The word “empathy” comes from the root words “em” meaning “in” and “path or pathos” which means “passion or suffering”. To have empathy for someone, is to “feel into” their suffering.  This is what Jesus did and this is exactly what we are called to do. 

In Galatians 6:2 St. Paul tells us “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Again from Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the other.”

            Keep in mind that as a caregiver, it is important to remain spiritually strong while caring for others. I would like to suggest a few things that will help you as you continue the privilege of caring for others in this capacity. 

            First, consider that the time spent with the sick is holy time.  In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” This simple attitude will give you the energy to carry you through the days that are most difficult. 

Next, as caregivers, we must pray for the person or people we are caring for. It is also important to pray for yourself asking God to give you the strength and stamina to do this work and thus fulfill His will.

Finally, everything we do we must do with love. This means we must always will the good of the other.  As caregivers, we should never waiver from this and always keep in mind that the purpose of giving care to others is to do what is best for them at any given time, even if it is inconvenient or uncomfortable for us. 

In conclusion, let us continue on the journey of love paved with empathy as we care for one another. Sometimes we may feel desolate and alone but we must persevere and always remember that God keeps His promise when he says, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7-8 

                                                                                                

A Prayer for Caregivers

Lord, help me to remember I am doing your work. Help me to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. 

Enable me to just be the conduit and means through which you work and help me to remember that it’s YOU through me. Thank you for trusting me with this role of caring for others. Amen

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