Author: Sr. Dr. Jwana
It is said, ‘God is the best Doctor and prayer is the best medicine.’ The scientific world is bubbling daily with new advances and technology is fast moving towards heretofore unknown horizons making some believe that God, faith and religion are antiquated notions. In the midst of all these advances I discover daily anew the power of God and the effect of faith in human lives.
I work in a mission station called Jagir Pannur in Manvi Taluk of Raichur District in Karnataka, and it is a challenging task working here in a backward area. But I have learnt a lot of new things which I want to place before all my readers.
Though they live in a backward area and people are materially poor, they are rich in humanity, especially in love. Their simplicity, faith in God and childlike trust is really an eye opener for me. They manifest in their humble lives that God dwells with them. Their hard work, life of total trust and dependence on the Providence of God, being satisfied with the little they have, acceptance of life’s hard realities, deprivations, living with bare minimum and qualities like these take me closer to Jesus who chose to be born in a cattle shed and grew up in a humble home in Nazareth for thirty long years. These people are filled with love, life, laughter, innocence, joy and enjoy the simple gifts of life with such excitement.
One of my patients who also belongs to this place taught me a beautiful lesson on life’s realities. In spite of being warned and told many times to go to a higher centre for the treatment of his cough and chest pain, which was first diagnosed as tuberculosis, he would come back to our centre with simple faith for symptomatic relief and would receive a long advice from us…only to come back for another visit after a few days. One day we refused him treatment in order to force him to go to a higher centre. Due to unbearable pain, he reluctantly visited RIMS and a battery of tests were conducted with no diagnosis told to him (as it happens in most higher centres). They suspected cancer of the lungs and referred him to Bangalore. The poor patient lost all his energy visiting the hospital for three months and still not been given a definitive diagnosis and treatment. He returned to his village frustrated with what he met at the higher centre without even getting his reports. One of his family members was told about the disease he had but no one wanted to go beyond to get him the right treatment.
After a while as usual he started revisiting us. By then we could also see him slowly deteriorating and advised him to collect his reports for better treatment. The patient refused . I slowly spoke to him one day about the possibility of him having cancer, this elderly man was so serenely resigned to accepting whatever came his way. He only asked to be relieved of his symptoms and that he would die peacefully. What I saw in him that morning was not a sad resignation to what was inevitable but a realistic acceptance of both life and death as gifts to be received with gratitude and humility. He taught me a great lesson to accept life quietly with gratitude and to surrender without fighting back to those realities we can never contend against any way.
My patients are indeed my teachers. They teach me so much about life, love, faith and trust in God. Their trust in their Doctor hugely assures me as I grapple uncertainly with diagnosis and correct treatment and challenge me to trust in God the ultimate Healer. May God be praised for these experiences which come unasked but which all the same compel us to grapple with raw questions of life, health and death as well as with the spiritual resources that can existentially answer these questions.