Sacred Story: Recognizing Dr. Ali Krisht

KrishtBy Chris Stines

During morning rounds at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, it is common to have an entourage of several learners trailing behind Dr. Ali Krisht as he visits patients scattered throughout the hospital.  One day I counted 12, including me!  These learners are composed of physicians, researchers, nurses, fellows, medical students and administrators.  Besides being gifted as a world renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Ali Krisht has a gift of putting complicated information into parables and analogies that allow the learner to more easily grasp the information.   Dr. Krisht does this in a humble way and as a learner himself, he has stated, “The more I know, the less I know.”   Perhaps this skill in putting the hay low for the sheep to eat was obtained from his upbringing in Africa and the Middle East where parables and stories are more commonly used.  In the past two years that I have worked with Dr. Krisht, I have heard many excellent analogies and stories.   One has stuck with me because of its depth of not only describing the human condition but also the motivation of a distinguished neurosurgeon.

A few months ago during rounds, Dr. Krisht stopped to explain what keeps him motivated and dedicated to spending long hours providing care for his patients.  He asked one Fellow if he had the opportunity to fly off in a spaceship to outer space, and was guaranteed a safe return, would he take the journey?  “Absolutely!” was the response.  Dr. Krisht explained that each person is like a unique universe and one could spend a lifetime exploring and trying to understand and know that person and never fully accomplish that goal.  That is how Dr. Krisht looks at each patient and how he views neurosurgery; an inexhaustible source of knowledge.

I made a connection between that comment and what scripture says about man and how we are created.  Scripture says that we are created in God’s triune image (Genesis 1:27) who is inexhaustible and eternal.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), complex people with complex bodies.  So complex, we still after thousands of years of collective human medical research, don’t completely understand many aspects of the human body, mind and soul.

Similar but to a much greater extent, we can spend eternity and never fully exhaust knowing God.  In fact those in His eternal presence will never get bored with or exhaust the awesome wonder and depths of God.  Eternal life itself begins with knowing God (When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:1-3 17)

Unlike our understanding of medicine, our fellow man and God, God’s understanding of us is complete.  He knows our coming and going, lying down and waking up, the exact number of hairs on our heads, our words even before we speak them, our thoughts and our motives.   He knows us more then we know ourselves.  He knows all our good and dark parts, every single one from our first to last breath.  We are also made with longing in our soul that only God can satisfy, though if we are honest we often try to satisfy that need with other things other than God.  Think of this, God alone fully knows us including all the times we have rejected Him and His words to go our own way, yet fully and more completely than anyone else has or ever will, loves those who trust in Christ.  No other love, romantic love included, can compare to the love of God, for no other love is fully informed and selfless.  What good news, God so loved the world that He gave Jesus… (John 3:16)!  The gift of Jesus’s sacrifice for our pardon from the judgment we deserve and to give us exactly what hearts long for: to be fully known and yet fully accepted and loved.

I am reminded now as I walk the floors and units that I have an incredible partnership of ministry with this God who so loved me that He created me and then gave His only Son so that I would be free to share His love with those He has entrusted me with…these inexhaustibly intricate yet marvelously loved patients of CHI St. Vincent.