Why does one patient live, but another die?
“Everyone is different,” you answer. You also wonder why I ask such an ignorant question. Well, let me refine the question. Suppose we factor out individual differences in the disease. In other words, we have two patients with the same diagnosis, and the same treatment; one survives, the other doesn’t. Why?
In his 2008 book, Rudolf Willis, M.D., Chief of Medical Oncology at the Cancer Centers of America, wrote “Finding Grace on the Less Travelled Road.” In that book, Dr. Willis explores that mystery of survival. According to a colleague, Dr Willis raises the issue that “Physicians cannot make people want to live.” There is something intangible about life.
At least part of the answer lies in whether and how much bitterness, resentment, and inability to forgive we carry with us. Like a car with its parking brake on, says the colleague, when we drag those feelings with us, we drag ourselves down. Given a medical crisis, with our resources reduced, we more easily give up on life.
The good news, of course, is that with the ability to forgive others, we can live longer. For Christians, we’re governed by Jesus’ command in John 13, “As I have loved you, love one another.” Now we know that loving others for Jesus sake not only makes us obedient disciples, it can save our life.