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The Fifth Meditation: My Friend, the Doctor

The greatest misery of sickness is loneliness. Visitors fear getting sick, so they don’t come to see me. I don’t think my doctor even wants to be with me! Some people don’t want to visit anyway, and fear of getting sick is a convenient excuse. But even good friends are afraid to see me. A long sickness will weary friends eventually, but a deadly sickness scares them off from the beginning. Nowhere else are people so alone as on their sick beds.

God himself is a communion, and all his actions tell us that he loves community. In heaven there are orders of angels and armies of martyrs, and in his house many mansions. On earth, God has created families, cities, churches, and colleges. There is the communion of saints which makes the universal church one congregation. And God, who declared all of creation to be good, still found a slight problem when he saw that it was not good for man to be alone.

No one, even those saved through Jesus Christ and covered with his righteousness, is immortal and will never die. Even Jesus, who was righteousness itself, died. And though he was alone many times, he was always able to surround himself with angels. Even when he chose not to, he was far from being alone. “I am not alone,” Jesus said, “I stand with the Father who sent me.”

I know that I will always be with you, my God, but I fear this disease will scare off my friends and my family. I am afraid that my mind and my strength and my memory will fade because of this illness, and that those who see such a change will be frightened as well. Only Jesus was able to suffer alone as he did. I cannot. At least, not without you. If you, or your Spirit, my friends, or my family abandon me, I am utterly alone. But a faithful friend brings such comfort. So I thank the Lord that he has given me his comfort and a friend in the same person: My doctor.

Gracious God, I’m not sure whether I am going to suffer long or short. Please be with me in either situation and help me, to endure a long illness or swiftly return to you. Glorify yourself by keeping me from infecting those who would come to visit me. Keep my soul from all doubts that may shake the assurance that you love me and will love me to my end. Bless the knowledge and the work of my doctor, who you have sent to help me. Since you have taken me by the hand and placed me in his hands, I pray that your kingdom come, and your will be done. Make my doctor successful, and relieve me of my suffering. I trust you to do all of this in your way, in your time, and in your measure. Amen.

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