Not all patient interactions are pleasant ones.
Sometimes, when I look at my clinic schedule, I groan inwardly at some of the names. "I don't have the energy to deal with that patient today. Why are they here?" These are usually pleasant enough people, but they have lots of social problems, poor health, are often on chronic pain medicines, and I never feel like I can fix them. I leave the room exhausted and frustrated, feeling like I accomplished nothing.
Twice recently, when I've had that feeling, I mumbled a little prayer under my breath before going in the room. "God, please give me patience, please help me be a good doctor to this patient." Or something to that effect. (And please don't be impressed. I pray for my patients so rarely, it's really embarrassing. This is not a story about me doing something good.)
And just like that, both times, on going into the room, it's been completely different. Once, I was able to really talk with a patient and realize that she was really struggling with stress and depression, and even feeling suicidal. We prayed together, and I actually had her admitted to the inpatient psych unit because I was so worried about her. Then, just a few days ago, I saw a patient who had been in the hospital since her last visit. Having her in the hospital helped her get some of her health problems under control - like her diabetes and high blood pressure - and also made her realize that all the pain medicines she was on were actually getting in the way of her health. She was happier than she'd ever been. And even hopeful about how things were going.
I'm not sure why I was so surprised. I think sometimes I just forget how powerful is the God we serve, and that he does answer prayers, far more powerfully than we can imagine.