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2nd November: Lebensraum

You have set my feet in a spacious place. Psalm 31:8 (NIV)

In this psalm, which contains some of the words of Christ on the cross (v5), the writer is affirming his trust in God, telling of the problems from which he has been delivered and relating some of his present afflictions. He was delivered out of the hand of the enemy, and his feet were set in a wide (broad) place. Enemies were all around him, yet his confidence was in God who had set him free from fears. This is something we can all experience however great the pressures upon us.

A more abundant life, or life in all its fullness (Jn 10:109 NEB), is what Jesus has promised his followers. When he sets our feet in a large place, life takes on a new dimension. He gives life with a plus and places us in a spacious mould which involves service for others as well as for his Kingdom.

At the end of a busy `take in', many a junior hospital doctor may feel that the `wide place' is almost too much; so may a general practitioner at the end of a long consulting or visiting session. Yet in what other professions could we be exposed to such a spectrum of human need and be given the opportunity of helping so many? The Christian can see drudgery as privilege, and a long queue of patients as individuals for whom, Christ died.

The writer practisers in what some may consider to be a `narrow' specialty; yet even here there are enormous opportunities for patient care, for meeting people at times of great anxiety, emotional upset and pain, and for dealing literally with matters of life and death. Medical qualifications set one's feet in a broad place, and there are opportunities for service in all specialties to the one prepared to look for them.

Christian belief does not make the doctor technically more proficient, or capable of undertaking more work. It does not make up for lack of knowledge. But when we consider that our wide view of life comes from a loving God of whose grace and mercy we are the recipients, we can more fully understand, and give thanks for, the words of Frederick Fabner's hymn.

There's a wideness in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in his justice, which is more than liberty.
For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind;
And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.

Further reading: Phil 1:3-18.


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