A story from an Indonesian senior urologist, Antono Pratanu, MD.
I belong to the risk group. Age 60 years, with a polycystic kidney, I’m still working in this pandemic situation 4 times a week, riding public transportation, eating in public places, and serving patients as usual, including surgery. Only if there is a clinical suspicion of Covid-19 patient, my surgery is delayed or referred to Covid-19 referral hospital. But for emergency cases, I still do most of the cases.
I try to exercise every day, take vitamins, eat nutritiously, get enough rest/sleep, take care of my emotions, and consume herbal drinks especially if you are not feeling well. Leaving the house early in the morning, pray to strengthen my heart and ask for God's protection, try to relax, and be happy. Always ready hand sanitizer, wearing double masks, and sometimes bring hazmat clothes. My backpack was filled with a change of clothes, toiletries, toothbrushes, and extra masks. I Wash my hands repeatedly to the elbows, wash the face to the neck and ears, and even take a shower before going home.
After work, I enter the house from a separate door, sterilize bags and luggage with UV lights, bathe again, and separate dirty clothes.
Am I not worried? Of course, the feeling is there, because I am an ordinary person, too. But I also have a call from my heart and my faith, to serve others. Besides my responsibilities to my family. I think, this also might be in the hearts of other medical colleagues
Then what is my principle?
I try to always be aware, use adequate PPE, even a little bit over, but that’s okay.
If I have tried to improve my protection, but then I have been affected by the infection, I have to surrender it to the Lord, keep trying to be grateful and happy. That is all.
I don't want to be overconfident, but I also don't want to be too afraid of; just be a rational person.
Because my part is to do my best, which is to continue bearing the fruit, through what the responsibility which already entrusted to me.
Actually ... I want to stay in my comfort zone. But I could not stand when I see the sick who asked for help. And also my sense of responsibility towards my family.
That's why I chose to keep working, in the highest alertness I could.
I am a doctor, who is called to serve the sick. That is my job.
All work has its risks. My part is to try to minimize the bad risks and be grateful if you can avoid it
Philippians 1:20-22 (NIV)
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
Am I reckless or tempting God? No. All I know is one thing, that I have to carry out my life duties carefully, smart, in love, and sincerity.
Sometimes I think that even Paul could choose to live comfortably and not be imprisoned. But he did not do it. It was not a choice he made.
Being a true servant of God is indeed full of risks to take up the cross and deny yourself. Likewise being a doctor. Doctors face the risk of disease exposure.
So why do we choose this profession? A vulnerable profession?
For me the answer is only one, that is because they love their work, and they are happy to see their patients recover.
Why would a servant of God want to be a pastor or an evangelist? Why did Paul choose to be an apostle and not a merchant? Why didn't Peter, James, and John return to being fishermen? I think the answer is the same that they want many people to be helped and saved. They want to be salt and light for the world. Share the love, joy, and true peace of Christ. Those are their joys. That is the purpose of their lives, and that's the call of God for them
Bearing fruit is a God-appointed duty, not a choice
John 15:16 (NIV)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
In the midst of any difficulties, we are called to be the salt for this world. To give a sense of peace, to change the taste that brings pleasure and arouses the appetite and passion of life. The tasteless becomes delicious. The desperate ones will have hope. We are called, chosen, and assigned to have a positive impact on others.
Salt must melt from its solid form in order to dissolve and change its taste. There are sacrifices that need to be made. Just like a seed that also will not produce fruit if it does not break and die. (John 12:24)
I remember the words of Martin Luther in the midst of the black plaque in 1527, when the epidemic struck his city, Wittenberg, he stated:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us.
Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it.
I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.
If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go free as stated above.
This is faith accompanied by the fear of God; a faith that is not brash, or foolish, and does not tempt God; but faith continues on working. Keep sharing love and bear fruit, in the best care, vigilance, and knowledge.
We are obliged to take care of ourselves as a responsible attitude towards the health that God has given to us, but we are also obliged to remain fruitful.
And our safety and our health are in the hands of God who cares for us. In the power of God's sovereignty. Our age, health, illness, and even death are in His hands.
Do our best, and know that God is always with us. And in everything, give thanks, always rejoice and give thanks. Keep on fruiting. Always look after ourselves and rely on God in submission, sincerity, faith, and gratitude.