Jonathan Harper

Jonathan Harper is a fourth year medical student at Loma Linda University, pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine. He is passionate about whole person care and seeks to serve God as a medical missionary here and abroad.

There is a Reason

in Summer 2016   |
Published on 09/22/2016   |
4 min | <<|>>

There is a reason you’ve come here today. I don’t think it was an accident.” She agreed, smiled, thanked us, and shook our hands as she left the clinic in Idaho I was rotating at as a third year medical student. After an hour of her telling her story about a broken past and a never-ending list of stressors, I could certainly understand why her symptoms seemed to be worsening. She came into the office anxious, fidgety, and denying a belief in God.

ThinkstockPhotos-186469984However, as the doctor wrapped up the visit, he shared how this clinic takes care of the whole person and is concerned about the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of their patients. He asked her if she was a spiritual person. She said she believed something was up there in the cosmos, but she didn’t believe in God. Then he explained that he believed spirituality included meaning, motivation, and purpose. He encouraged her to start the day with a simple prayer of surrender. For him, that meant surrendering to God, explaining what prayer meant to him as a Christian, offering principles from his own experience, rather than pushing his ideas on her. To my surprise, she identified with this, and I noticed a physical change as her countenance brightened and she started to relax. “There is a reason you’ve come here today”. You see, as a new resident of the area, she had scheduled an appointment with another doctor. However, that doctor called in sick, so she made a same-day appointment at this Seventh-day Adventist clinic. Chance? I believe not.

Another patient stumbled into the clinic. He was an alcoholic, unshaven and stooped over, with a frown painted on his face expressing a visible scream for help. He was at his wits’ end. He knew that he needed to change. He hated himself for drinking, and as a single dad, he wanted to quit for his eight-year-old son. With no local drug rehab program, my supervising physician laid out a stringent medical program with frequent appointments and a connection with local support. He was eager to follow any advice. We offered to pray with him, acknowledging our human helplessness without the help of Christ and the people He places in our path. Two days later, I saw the man in the hallway, frown gone, smiling, two thumbs up, eagerly saying that things were going well. He still seemed to lack confidence, but I was thrilled to see him on the road to recovery.

The alcoholic desperate for help, the smoker too stressed to quit, the diabetic eager to reverse a normally life-long disease… Everybody at this clinic comes in for a reason. And many patients here actually change. In most clinics, smokers continue smoking, alcoholics keep on drinking, and people continue life with no interest in making lifestyle changes. That’s not the case here. At this clinic, I witnessed patients let go of life-long habits. I’ve tried to figure out why this happens, and while I don’t have a definitive answer, I know the source of the reason. At this clinic, the office staff and clinicians have one purpose – to be connected with Jesus and connect each patient with the Jesus they know and love. Sure, they spend more time with patients than the average clinician, they truly care for each patient, and they’re skilled at motivational interviewing. But these reasons aren’t enough to cause patients to change. As I’ve been reminded here again and again, it matters much less what you do or how you do it than who you are and Who you are connected with.

There is a reason. A reason I came to Idaho. I wanted to come to this clinic because of my interest in medical evangelism, but I was disappointed as each effort to make this rotation work had failed. So I left it in God’s hands, hoping it would work out as I continued to plan for other rotations near Loma Linda. However, four weeks prior to my coming, I ran into a fellow medical student who mentioned a different pathway she took to be able to rotate at this clinic in Idaho. So with an email sent, several office visits made, and a flight booked, the Lord paved the way.

It may seem obvious to some, but it amazes me how much God blesses when we engage in the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ, as Loma Linda University so aptly professes. While on this rotation, I had an amazing sense of peace, satisfaction, and excitement about the art of medicine and medical evangelism. The rewards from practicing medicine when patients are willing to make changes to regain their health, and especially when they express sincere interest in experiencing the love of Jesus, far surpass any financial success this world can offer.

While here, I have seen and experienced the power of medical ministry to be an entering wedge for the gospel. I have seen lives transformed by a new lifestyle and a trusting relationship with Jesus. I have been challenged, like the rich young ruler, to lay my future in the hands of Jesus, and trust Him with the details. God has a reason for how He leads our lives, if we will simply let Him plan for us. As Ellen White said in Ministry of Healing:

“Too many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure. Let God plan for you. As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will “keep the feet of His saints.” 1 Samuel 2:9. God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” -Ministry of Healing, p. 479

Will you let Him plan your life? You will be amazed at what He has in store for you. You will find there will be a reason for each person God brings into your path, and each opportunity He gives you to be His hands and feet. He will give you a reason for living, if you let Him.

<< | Table of Contents | >>