Doctors as tools in the hand of God

Wisdom 38:

“His knowledge will come from the Most High”.

The knowledge we receive in our career is from God Himself. It is true that we work hard and do research but the knowledge itself is ultimately from Him. Our knowledge is given to us to help humanity and to alleviate their pain.

Although, it is true that medicine allows us to cure many diseases, we know that this is not always the case and that is why our words matter too. It is important for us as Christian doctors to treat patients as a whole, to think of the third dimension and this can take much time. When medicine cannot provide a cure, the patient’s family can often feel much grief, and we should try to provide comfort at this time.

Medicine is not a 9 to 5 job. We are asked by God to serve His children. I believe it is, or at least I look at it, like a human mission that needs to be guided by God rather than just a job. Our mission as Children of God is to try our utmost and to leave the situation in God’s hands and not to interfere with his plans. We, as Christians, need to believe in the importance of allowing God to work through us. The book of Isaiah says that we are tools in His hand. Likewise, we should be vehicles for God to give His Word to the patient.

Our work in medicine should be based on HONESTY, PATIENCE and UPDATED KNOWLEDGE.


Shortcuts are beloved to the human nature, we often choose ‘the route of least resistance’, on the other hand, to be a good doctor we should take the right path not necessarily the easiest. If we believe that we have surrendered the whole plan of our lives to God, and medicine is His plan for us then He has left a certain responsibility in our hands. In the same way, as Abouna is entrusted with our spiritual lives, we are entrusted with the health of our patients. It is true that the right way is not always easy; although we should not feel it as very hard. I see our work in medicine as similar to an order of prayer and not less important.

As Christian physicians we should not hesitate to approach the long way in this service of helping patients, although we may be deprived from our free time, this commandment (to take the right path) is no different from any of God’s other commandments. Even if in work, you are mocked or seem a little bit different because you use your spare time trying to find out the best treatment for your patient, rather than watching a television programme or participating in other social activities. Although, these would be good and not doing them may leave you feeling left out, we should think of it as one of The Lord’s commandments, to put the health of our patients first.

I have learned from my uncle that I should research in books and the internet for the solutions for difficult cases the same evening that I meet the patients. A valuable piece of advice is that if you fail in solving a case on your own, then try to find a 2nd/3rd opinion even if they are abroad, in the US… or however difficult it may seem and do not be afraid to refer your patients to other doctors as needed. Looking after a patient is a great responsibility. Be honest when looking after your patients’ health. The more knowledge you seek for your patients’ benefit the more blessing God will ordain you.

Sometimes you will find you are able to solve a very difficult case, one that your seniors were not able to solve (when you humble yourself). Enlightenment comes from God, so humble yourself and let God work in your life. God is not ‘slow’ to work through us if we humble ourselves and ask for his help. He can help us acquire knowledge and help our understanding.

You can humble yourself before God in your bedroom but when you are on the playing field and you know the treatment for a patient you need to speak up, this is not the time to be humble. We need to have knowledge but also wisdom to apply it appropriately. If you are certain of your answer you need to be assertive however you should never, ever be assertive or stubborn out of selfish pride.


Don’t rush your study, you might need to study biochemistry as part of your degree and you do not enjoy it or find it hard. However, you need to know it just in case one day one of the chemists comes to you discussing the effect of a certain drug; you will need to be fully aware of its chemical structure. I do not mean to be harsh but anyway this is a serious bit of our life. Success in medicine is not a gift or special talent, it’s an effort; a big and hard effort.

A physician should not stop studying a certain part of medicine. To fulfil the commitment, you need to continue your life updating your knowledge and you’ll be surprised by what God does through your effort. God knows exactly when you will hang your stethoscope, when your last day in medicine will be.

On one occasion I was with Father Bishoy Kamel, a great spiritual leader in Alexandria, during his last days when he was dying of cancer. He was talking to a group of people and he pointing at a certain man in front of the congregation and said: “You are the best one”. It turned out that he was Father Bishoy’s physician throughout his last days. He had tried his best to alleviate Abouna’s terrible pain from cancer.

At the end of the day, engineers deal with machines, but physicians deal with human beings. This is what grace we get from our job.

It’s a life mission if we respect it, we’ll be really successful.

Questions at end:
How can we choose our speciality?
We need to pray and ask God’s guidance. We will hear many people saying many different things to us, ‘this is good for you’, ‘this is easier’, ‘this is less competitive’ etc; this is all like noise in our ears but we need to pray and we will know the speciality God wants for us.

Ask priest??

Do you find that medicine helps spirituality?

Yes, on one occasion, there was a surgeon doing an operation and I was the anaesthetist. The patient had lost much blood and I could not find a pulse. I had expected the next morning when I got to work that she would have passed away but to my surprise she was well and sitting up. In this occasion, you can say that God wanted her to live and therefore we saw His hand in our w

About Nabil Raphael

Dr Nabil Raphael is the President of the Coptic Medical Society.

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