Set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ ... Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to give account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 1:13b
Shortly after completing my medical school training, I cared for a premature infant with displastic kidneys and end-stage renal failure. She was too small for then-available dialysis or transplantation therapy, and supportive care was maximised. Aware that her renal function was inadequate to support growth and that there was no more than a miniscule chance for recovery, I sent her home from the hospital with her parents saying, `We'll hope for the best'. It was then that God pierced my heart with Peter's words. Viewing this young patient's life, had I focused my hope on too temporal a goal? Had I cheated the parents by failing to direct them to a hope that transcends death?
Peter is straightforward in directing us to place our expectation completely on the ultimate revelation of grace as our current age draws to a close. At the end of his second epistle, Peter makes it clear that the day of the Lord will come. Certainly, this day will usher in an age of righteousness where sickness and sorrow will not exist. Hope focused on this promised provision will not be disappointed. Lesser objects of our hope (as seen in 3 Jn 14) can be accepted, but should always be seen as secondary to our guaranteed Blessed Hoped.
If, as Christian physicians, we have accepted God's provision of a perfect hope, do we dare hide it selfishly from our patients and their families? Certainly not! God is patiently delaying our ultimate salvation (cf 2 Pet 3:9), because he desires others to come to him. We face a great opportunity! As we deal with individuals in humanly hopeless situations, we can direct them to the Source of a hope that goes far beyond the limits of our medical care.
Yes, I think I failed to offer my patient's family all that was available to them. God has given me a hope that goes beyond healthy kidneys. each of us must fix our hope properly and then, with gentleness and reverence, offer to our patients God's hope of eternal salvation.
Lord, fill our minds and hearts with your words of hope:
`Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope' (Rom 15:13).
Further reading: Mt 12:15-21. Ti 2:11-3:8. Heb 11:13-16. 1 Pet 1:3-9. Col 4:5-6.