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5th May: Frail Children of Dust

'...he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Every doctor knows the frailty of the human body and mind, even while acknowledging that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14 AV). Perhaps more than most, the casualty surgeon knows how easily the body can be broken, and the psychiatrist knows how the mind can be thrown into chaos. We know it is true of ourselves as well as of patients. This earthly tent that we live in, as Paul calls it (2 Cor 5:1), is very vulnerable and has a limited life. Meantime the doctor's task is to look after it to the best of his or her ability.

What we too often neglect, however, is the spiritual being who lives in this tent, this temporal home. We live and think and work very much in the 'now' of life, forgetting the eternity that not only is to be but already surrounds us. Thank God his vision of things is not so limited. He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. 'Our days are like grass', says the Psalmist. 'But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him'.

While being grateful always for God's steadfast love towards us personally, we can also see here a pattern for a right attitude in medical practice. It is not for the doctor to play God, though that accusation is sometimes made as a jibe. But patients do trust their doctor, and he or she can scarcely do less than follow the Lord's example of showing tenderness and faithfulness towards those who trust him.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail:
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.

Robert Grant

Further reading: Ps 103.


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