By Joseph Kretschmar, MD
Gastroenterology, Greeneville Tennessee

1 Thessalonians 5: 18. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. KJV

“The surgery director wants you to call her.” These were the words that greeted me with an air of gravity as I arrived in the endoscopy suite to do the first case for the day. We have been doing only emergency cases during the COVID 19 lockdown. I am the only gastroenterologist presently doing endoscopy, so only a few cases are being done at the small town non-Adventist hospital where I work. The majority of the hospital staff that usually helps me has been furloughed, and the ones that remain have been on call most of the time.

We had been looking forward to starting to do some elective cases in the coming week, as the governor’s lockdown order was going to be lifted. Now I was to call the surgery director.

“You will have to do additional testing on each patient you intend to do a procedure on. The test can take 3-5 days to get back, and the patient will have to self-quarantine in the meantime.”

In other words, we would not be opening up with the volume of patients we had been hoping for.

I shared the news with the staff that was present. Discouragement settled in. When the slow down started we had begun a practice of getting together and reading a Bible verse and praying before starting our workday. We had felt God”s blessing because we had a large waiting list of people who needed non-emergency endoscopies. We were looking forward to pointing other hospital workers to God when they noted how we had been blessed. Now this obstacle.

Regardless, it was time to start work. We gathered together for our prayer time with a feeling of distress and gloom. A text I had just read that morning came to mind. I told them, “This verse is for me.” I read: 1 Thes. 5:16-18. As I finished I stated, “I need this because I don’t feel like giving thanks right now.”

“Yes!” the nurses burst out, “We don’t feel like it either, but let us give thanks!”

That set the tone for the day and discussion thereafter. How this all will work out is still being written, but we choose daily to give thanks.