Recently, I’ve been thinking about a particular topic. I wanted to address it in my weekly post, but I couldn’t figure out the right words. The other day as I was driving to work, this story came to my mind–I think it addresses the situation on my mind well.
I’m not going to share the purpose of the parable (I will say that it’s not written about anyone in particular), but I would love to hear what this parable brings to your mind.
The Parable of the Dying Man
Once there was a man who was the epitome of good health. He exercised regularly, ate well, avoided excessive stress, and received regular checkups from his doctor. At one of his annual physicals, his doctor noticed some unusual results from one of the tests, so the doctor sent the man to a specialist in that field of medicine.
The man dutifully scheduled an appointment and soon was examined with a barrage of tests. Once the results were back, the specialist broke the news: “I’m sorry to say that you have a serious health problem. It has no physical manifestation right now, but, if left untreated, it will soon debilitate you and will eventually cause your death.”
The man was visibly shaken–after all, he was the epitome of health. He did everything they said you should do to be in good health and none of the things they said that caused poor health. The man quickly scheduled an appointment with another specialist in that field for a second opinion.
At that appointment, the specialist ran all the same tests and came to the same conclusion: “I’m sorry to say that you have a serious health problem. It has no physical manifestation right now, but, if left untreated, it will soon debilitate you and will eventually cause your death.”
Now the man was upset. He went home and worried about these test results. Finally, he did some research of his own and decided he needed another opinion. This time, he scheduled an appointment with a specialist in another area of expertise. He wanted to validate whether the first two specialists knew what they were talking about. At this appointment, the man didn’t share the previous diagnosis. “Let’s see if they come to the same conclusion,” he said to himself.
This specialist ran all of the tests he would run in his area of expertise and at the end of the appointment, declared “according to all of my tests, you are the epitome of good health.”
This brought some joy back to the man, but he wanted to be sure. So he scheduled an appointment with another specialist in another area of expertise. That visit also resulted in a clean bill of health. He did this 3 more times–each visit with a specialist in a different field of expertise. All of these visits also declared him to be in great health.
Now the man was feeling pretty good. He’d visited six specialists and four of them said he was in great health. As he looked in the mirror, he tried to see the health problem the first two specialists said he had–he couldn’t see anything.
His mind wasn’t at peace though, so he went to a friend…a friend who was unstudied in the field of medicine. He presented the facts: “I’ve been to six specialists, four of them say I’m in good health. I feel great. I look great. Do you think I’m healthy?”
The friend thought for a moment, then replied, “well, you look healthy, you eat well, and you exercise regularly. There were only two specialists who said you were unhealthy–surely they must have been wrong.”
With that declaration, the man stopped going to his specialists at all. He still went to his primary doctor, but each time, his doctor would tell him about his serious health problem and beg him to go back to the specialist. Eventually, the man stopped going to his primary doctor–he didn’t like that his doctor wouldn’t believe his research.
Very slowly, the man’s problem began to physically manifest itself. At first, it was easy to rationalize away the discomfort as over-exertion. After all, he was working out at the gym every day. Eventually, the day came when the man couldn’t go to the gym because of the pain. Still, he told himself that four specialists had told him he was healthy. Finally, the day came when the man couldn’t leave his bed. As he lay there, he realized he was sick. He pondered upon the council of the specialists. He wondered how they could have been so wrong. He was curious why none of them told him he was going to die. With his last breath, he muttered “I am the epitome of good health.”