Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

March 20, 2012
by

Sam Pierre

3rd Year Medical Student

Ez 47:1-9, 12
Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Jn 5:1-16

I have grown to adore Lent and the personal challenges that I incorporate throughout the season.  I start with such vigor and grandiose plans of aligning my life with God’s will for me.  By about this point in Lent, however, I begin to realize that my initial ambition does not correlate with apparent growth.  I strive to “grow closer to God” and other cliché religious goals, which are fantastic ideas, but I often struggle to define them.

In a sense, I am like the sick man in today’s Gospel.  Jesus asks if he wants to be well and the man responds with a disclaimer about how difficult it is.  So too am I making excuses by complicating Jesus’ simple offer in Lent: if we shift the focus away from our selfish desires, he will shine through us more brightly.

The sick man, and frequently I as well, puts the blame on others to avoid the guilt of idle laziness.  “No one is explaining to me how to let God work through me.”  “No one is helping me.”  “Someone else is already doing that.”  “I don’t have the talents that they have.”  At some point, these are all excuses to alleviate the pain of my shortcomings in letting God work through me.

What I’ve forgotten is the focus of our first reading.  The angel shows Ezekiel how God’s gifts start as a trickle and end up as a mighty river that transforms the sea.  It’s that powerful, productive stage for which we all strive.  However, it is equally important to recognize that the fruits of our work with God start as a miniature stream.  It’s during those start-up times that we must instill our trust in God.  Unfortunately, we don’t go through those times only once.  It doesn’t work like age where we grow past our respective birthdays and never go back.  For each new avenue of our lives, each new undertaking, each new aspect of our faith, we must begin with that initial trust and build up to the fruits of our labor.

In my third year of medical school I am starting to notice the transition from tiny stream to flowing creek.  It has taken many years of diligent studying and trusting that God will use that education for his greater glory, but I am now noticing little ways that God has impacted others through my work in medicine.  Just last week I had the pleasure of getting to know the most grateful 84 year-old patient through a few short minutes each day around five in morning.  Looking past her terminal cancer, for which my surgery team and I removed a few of her organs, she reminded me every day of what a wonderful job we were doing. 

Just yesterday, as I was leaving the room after checking in on one of our post-surgical patients, he stopped me at the door to say, “Que Dios te bendiga.”  In spite of my exhaustion and frustration with other parts of the day, his Spanish wish that God would bless me helped me realize that God does use me as an instrument to serve his people.  While my career in medicine is only one avenue of my attempts to allow God to work through me, it illustrates one important transition stage of the trust-growth process.

Regardless of what type of waterway represents our individual attempts to let God work through us, the lesson in today’s readings remains constant: quit making excuses, stop worrying about results, and simply trust that God will make our efforts fruitful.


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