Soli Deo Gloria: Principle One

“To God alone be the glory” or “Soli Deo Gloria” has been used by the great composers Bach and Handel to emphasize that any honor for their musical work was owed to God rather than to the human composers. Short of miraculous intervention I will never compose something of such grand musical nature nor will I match their level of fame in my own field of medicine. However, I can imitate them in keeping “Soli Deo Gloria” in mind with each patient.

Having briefly stated the principles underlying my care of patients in the previous blog post, I turn my attention to filling in the details of each principle. The primary guiding principle under-girding the development of Sanctuary Medical from conception to birth has been “Wholistic healthcare for the GLORY OF GOD”. This is nothing more than my attempt to apply Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (ESV) to my practice of medicine. Hopefully, this sounds right and good, but what exactly does that look like as I sit before a patient in need?

First and foremost, I pray that I never become conceited in believing that my own knowledge, my own wisdom, nor my own skill have bring any good to a patient’s healing except that God’s power first worked in it. No, I am not advocating “Let go and Let God” in how I care for patients. I simply mean, as Philippians 2:13 teaches, that I will work at caring for others with the gifts given me by God, all the while recognizing that all good things come from God, as James 1:17 teaches. So as I sit face to face with a patient, I try to begin with a prayer that reminds both me and the patient that any good from our time together must originate from God. Then with that declaration before us, we move forward with the visit.

Having laid that foundation, I weigh each medical decision in light of glorifying God. There will be times that I sense in myself or in the patient, the seeds of trusting too much in my knowledge or too much in the “power of science”. There will be times when we, doctor and patient, might be tempted to take the pragmatic approach which includes spiritually questionable therapies. If I sense these small steps away from God’s glory, I prayerfully and gently redirect us to Him who alone deserves our trust and honor. If any good is to come from my care of patients, I must remain true to the first principle of glorifying God. Only then can I hope to be a vessel of real and lasting restoration of health.

Wait! What about “patient centered medicine” and “patient autonomy”? Aren’t we supposed to put the patient’s needs before our own needs or beliefs? I ask those who object in this manner, “What greater good can there be for a suffering person than God’s healing?” God glorifying medicine will serve the patient far better and far longer than these simplistic and humanistic cliches. If we as physicians want what is best for a patient, then what is better than God’s good? Proclaiming “Do no harm” instead of Soli Deo Gloria is like holding a flickering candle up in front of a blazing sun and shouting “Let there be light!”.

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