Salt and Light: A Personal Story of Prayer and Practice by Dr. Lloyd Hey

Matthew 5:13-14Matthew 5:13-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  

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(NIV)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Alexander the great and physician Philip of Arcarnania.
Alexander the great and physician Philip of Arcarnania.

We are delighted to present a personal testimony of Dr Lloyd Hey, the Chairman of Triangle Medical Christian Fellowship. Lloyd Hey MD MS of the Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery in Raleigh, NC. Link.  We actively solicit personal testimonies focusing on faith in practice.

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I offer to pray with patients and their families before surgery, and 99% of families wish to pray. I also pray with my surgical team right before I cut skin.

Yesterday, I was doing surgery at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh on a 7 year old girl with 81 degree scoliosis. I offered to pray with the family before the surgery.  Even though I could sense the dad was a bit hesitant, I began to pray and we had a great time of prayer together. After we were finished, I could see that the father was glad we had prayed.

I only do a handful of surgeries at WakeMed each year. Therefore, I  do not have the close working relationships with the staff that I have at Duke Raleigh Hospital where I perform the bulk og my surgeries. As a result, when it came to praying before surgery, I did not want to cause a fuss and felt uncomfortable praying with the scrub team that were there.  As a result, I just prayed in a very low voice.

When I finished, I was surprised when the scrub tech in the room with me said,  "Wait a minute.  Can we join in?"  Sarah, the scrub nurse, quickly added, "Yeah!" I smiled and we prayed again, this time loud enough so we could all join in together.

I also made a point to bring in my iPad, and got a special plug so I could access  the sound system for the operating room. I  played my Pandora Chris Tomlin station throughout the surgery and preparation time.  This helps me to keep my heart focused and calm. Very often when I play this type of contemporary Christian music, I frequently hear my scrub tech Sandra, or the CRNA, singing along to the music!!

The little girl's surgery was totally blessed.  We rocked together as a team, achieved a great correction of her huge curve and got the whole thing done in 3 hours and 40 minutes — a surgery that I've seen take as long as 10 hours!  After surgery I showed the family the X-Ray and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving with the mom and dad.

When I think of these experiences, a verse that comes to mind is from Matthew and is quoted above. Jesus calls us to be salt and light, and not to put our light under a bowl. As the surgeon, I can help shine a light so that it blesses the other folks on the team as we serve together.

I wonder what percentage of surgeons or other physicians offer to pray with their patients especially before an invasive procedure. I also wonder why they don't. Having recently had a minor procedure myself, lying their all alone on gurney in just a gown, I actually wished someone had offered to pray with me!

We all need to encourage the next generation of physicians and other health care providers to inject their faith into practice, including compassionately offering to pray with patients and families. Some day those young physicians will care for us and our loved ones as we go through the sufferings and fears of growing older. One day, they may stand beside us as we face the "Shadow of the Valley of Death."  (Psalm 23).

While some might suggest we should outsource spiritual care to a chaplain, I contend that  there is nothing quite like the treating physician/ nurse offering to pray . They are the ones that are actually delivering the care for the patient, and through whom God can work to bring peace, hope and healing.

This morning my first surgical patient has had 6 prior spinal surgeries, and she looked visibly anxious. Rather than giving her IV Versed, I asked her if she wanted to pray, and she smiled and literally grabbed my hands. The pre-op nurse, the patient's friend and I made a circle and prayed. I prayed for her peace, safety, healing… and that God would work through me and the rest of the team.

After prayer, I could tell she had been blessed by the Spirit with peace.Then she told me that she was confident that God was looking out for her and that He would work through me and the team. Now I am in the operating room, getting her positioned. Not only did SHE need that prayer, but I needed it as well. We all need God's help through prayer.

 

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