Dinner Table Story

“Today my patient came in looking a bit depressed. According to routine, I asked if he had any changes in his medical history. He stated that he was ‘zoning out’ because he had just witnessed something he shouldn’t have. My concerned but nosy self asked him to elaborate. He explained that his neighbour had been shot in the face a couple days ago. He was only 17. My assistant Googled the story. He was actually 18.

(Our patients are always in the news, or at least know the people in the news. Except these things usually aren’t news stories, just teeny weeny crime notes.)

My patient didn’t know why anyone would commit such a senseless crime. I asked if his friend had any enemies. My patient replied that he didn’t, and repeatedly insisted that his friend was a good person. He didn’t deserve to die. We talked about good people, bad people, sin, the gospel, human need for a Saviour, forgiveness, God’s justice, why bad things happen to good people, what God says in Psalms and Proverbs about wicked people, the purpose of suffering. Finally he reluctantly shared that his friend was killed over a girl, who was only 14 years old. She perhaps felt disrespected, then told her boyfriend, who probably sent someone or went himself to kill him. I encouraged him to continue being a good neighbour by being there for his friend’s family. Even though he was upset and feeling powerless, it would still make a difference to his family that he cares and remembers their son. I read him a Psalm in Spanish of King David complaining about his foes. He told me he didn’t go to church because it made him feel like a hypocrite. I told him he should keep going to church because it’s full of hypocrites. Which is why we all need God. Or something like that. I offered him a Bible. He asked if I thought it was a good idea for him to take it. I told him that I thought every household should have a one. He told me that he didn’t read. So I asked how he made it through high school if he didn’t read, then I quickly wished I hadn’t asked that. He affirmed that he did know how to read but he couldn’t read very fast. I told him that if he practiced more, he would get faster. He accepted the Bible. We prayed together.”

“How come your stories never have anything to do with dentistry?”

“And then I removed his wisdom tooth. The end.”


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