Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, October 5

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”
—Luke 24: 28-29

The doctor's diagnosis left no room for ambiguity.

She had cancer.

She would need chemotherapy.

She would need radiation.

And this time it wasn't a patient who received the diagnosis. It was the doctor herself.

She had a decision to make. Should she continue to practice medicine?  Should she continue delivering babies? Was her day nearly over? And where would she take shelter?

She decided to stay in practice. Her hair fell out as a result of the cancer treatments, and when she noticed that the newly delivered babies had more hair than she did, she couldn't help but laugh. The bond she developed with both those newborn children and their mothers was extraordinary.

When she shared her story, her depth of emotion, empathy, and faith were clear. “It was the whole thing,” she said. “Life, death, and the hope for life again.”  It was, of course, the Easter story, where life emerged from the shadows and blessed the world with new life.

Along the way, the chaos of cancer retreated. She healed. Some of the healing resulted from radiation. Some of it resulted from chemotherapy. And a lot of it came from the encouragement of her patients and the presence of children she brought into life when her day might have been nearly over and she chose to stay involved.

Gracious God, sometimes events seem to flow against us, diagnoses seem to signal an end. Help us bring others into our circle that we might find life's promise once again. Amen.

The Signposts for October are written by The Rev. Larry Pray, who for twenty years served as a pastor for the United Church of Christ in Minnesota and Montana, until a disability meant that he had to find new ways to express life. His first book was Journey of a Diabetic, about learning to accept incurable disease. Other publications include Leading Causes of Life, co-authored with Gary Gunderson, and The Geography of Healing that includes interviews with pastors, doctors and hospital administrators about where it is that we heal.