Friday, September 29, 2017

From Death to Life

Inside the Medical Ward
The sidewalk outside the Medical Ward,
 where our patient spent the night.
       The stench of decay was overwhelming. It was so unbearable that we found our patient outside the medical ward, lying on a gurney on the sidewalk because all the other patients couldn’t stand being in the same building as him. A motor vehicle accident had caused a small, perianal puncture wound that had been neglected for three days prior to him arriving at our hospital. Now, infection had set in and was rapidly extending through his skin and soft tissues. As we debrided the dead tissue, we could see the necrotizing fasciitis (AKA flesh-eating bacteria) spreading before our very eyes. We removed extensive amounts of skin and soft tissue down to the muscle on his buttock, groin and side of the leg almost to the knee.  The resulting wound was enormous and difficult to manage as it wrapped almost circumferentially around his thigh.  We were out of stock of Clindamycin, the standard antibiotic that is crucial in stopping the spread of this type of infection. Instead, we tried a related medication and prayed it would work. We knew that his body’s response to treatment over the next 24 hours would determine his prognosis, and it looked rather grim. Amazingly, he stabilized overnight. With a glimmer of hope, we began the grueling, 2-month-long process of closing his wounds. He underwent daily debridement and dressing changes under anesthesia until the wound was ready for a special vacuum dressing. Eventually, the wound was closed with serial skin grafting.
         Early in his hospital stay, Benson asked Dr. Ben to pray with him. After his close brush with death, he spent a lot of time examining his life. Now, he had decided to place his faith in the God who had saved his life and he wanted to follow Jesus.
As I reflect on Benson’s story, I realize it is a strong metaphor for our spiritual lives. Inevitably, we will receive wounds from other people, circumstances, or events in our lives: disappointments, betrayal, or loss of loved ones to name a few. Even a small wound in our hearts left untreated allows sin to enter and take root. Before we know it, the festering resentment, irritability, bitterness, or discontent spreads until we become offensive to those closest to us. Without intervention, our decaying hearts will become dead: devoid of feeling and unable to fulfill the good purpose God intended for our lives. In order to rid ourselves of this spreading disease, we must submit ourselves to the Great Healer and allow him to cut away every part of our hearts that reeks of decay. The process can be long and painful as he whittles away every ounce of sinful flesh, exposes raw wounds, and gradually patches healthy tissue together again. But the joy of complete healing is worth the struggle, and the new life that He brings is beyond compare.

Benson, excited to go home soon and start his new life.

(Patient name and picture shared with permission)


  1. Just, wow! Such amazing things God calls upon a doctor to do. Thanks for your faithfulness and faith to use your skills and leave God to do what he chooses. What an awesome blessing to be a patient with a doctor who can pray for him/her. I'm blessed to have a believing doctor right here, too. <3

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. So wonderful to know this young man has a new beginning!