The Great Physician

O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

—Psalm 30:2

When you’re going through a difficult time — be it emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual — it can be easy to lose faith and feel like you may not overcome the challenge; that the pain will envelop you and take you down. But the good news is, you can move past it. After all, the Lord doesn’t throw anything your way that you can’t handle. If you forget that, it helps to look at those around you and remember that you are never alone. We always have God with us, but we also have our friends and family who care about us, and hopefully, we have someone we can lean on in times of trouble.

During his earthly life, Jesus was very active in his ministry of healing. He cured the blind so they could see again. He healed the lame so they could walk once more. He let the deaf hear again. He raised Lazarus from the dead. The early Church Fathers gave our Lord the title of “the Great Physician.” However, Jesus did not cure all disease and sickness once and for all. Instead, he asked us to have faith in Him. Jesus came to give us a life that will never end, not even with death. 

Jesus is widely considered to have performed many miracles during his three-year ministry, from turning water into wine at the beginning to the second miraculous catch of fish towards the end. He also healed people. He healed a lot of people, with approximately two-thirds of his recorded miracles involving healing. Healing people was important to Jesus. But time and time again he used the opportunity to heal someone as a practical way of teaching us something else. Something that is as equally relevant for us today as it was 2,000 years ago. 

There is a hymn called “The Great Physician” written by William Hunter (1811- 1877) who emigrated from England and settled in York, Pennsylvania with his family when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Madison College at Uniontown, Pennsylvania and became a Methodist minister.  He later taught Hebrew at Allegheny College. Though he wrote 125 hymns, the only one still in use is “The Great Physician” (initially called “Christ, the Physician”).  Originally, the hymn had seven verses but hymn books generally print just four of them. 

The Great Physician
By William Hunter, pub.1859
Ref. by Richard Kempenfelt, 1777

The Great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus!
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

Your many sins are all forgiv’n,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus;
The veil ‘twixt you and God is riven,
Redemption wrought by Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

All glory to the dying Lamb!
I now believe in Jesus;
I love the blessed Savior’s name,
I love the name of Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

His name dispels my guilt and fear,
No other name but Jesus;
Oh, how my soul delights to hear
The precious name of Jesus!
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

And when to that bright world above,
We rise to see our Jesus,
We’ll sing around the throne of love
His name, the name of Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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