The Laborers are Few

With elbows digging into my desk, my blood pressure slowly begins to rise as my tense hands push into my temple. You have got to be kidding me?! I take a deep breath as I massage my brow. This shouldn’t be so hard.

In September, my daughter begins competitive cheer and heads back to school so she needs a well visit and physical. It shouldn’t be that difficult to book that appointment. Weigh her. Measure her. Take the hammer and hit her knee. Light in the ears and eyes. Wooden tongue depressor with a big “ahhh” and we’re out the door. This is a simple process. Whole check-up should be a few minutes so getting an appointment should be easy. No, incorrect.

I just got off the phone with the pediatric offices and the next available appointment is October 27th. I’m penning this article on August 9, so that’s 78 days from today. Yes, two and half months. This is ridiculous! How did we get to this point?

This is more than just a personal anecdote so hang with me. There are a couple of factors at play. First, our area is growing and teeming with kids who are all preparing to go back to school. There’s plenty of kids in need of a good doctor. Second, a wave of mid-summer sick visits are triaged above physicals and wellness exams. Third, and most alarming, there’s not enough doctors.

In a 2021 report, entitled The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections From 2019 to 2034, the Association of American Medical Colleges forecast that the U.S. faces a projected shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians within the next 12 years. The 76 page report not only sounds the alarm but AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD gives a clear call to action.

“Because it can take up to a decade to properly educate and train a physician, we need to take action now to ensure we have enough physicians to meet the needs of tomorrow, the health of our nation depends on it.”

Two powerful thoughts that come from that statement. First, immediate action and a sense of urgency is necessary in order for a long term goal to be met. “We need to take action now!” A great quote but an even greater outlook on life. Second, in a world consumed and driven by data, a lack of insight failed to translate into proper foresight. In 1767, Columbia University opened the doors to the nation’s first medical school and today the United States boasts of 172 universities with schools of medicine. For 255 years, becoming a licensed doctor has (rightly) required a lengthy process so this shouldn’t have taken our country by surprise.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus makes a powerful statement that’s not only applicable to my current medical conundrum but also practical for all of us. In speaking to 72 followers who have little training and experience, He declares – “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The harvest is plentiful but there is an epidemic when it comes to a shortage of workers. In Jerusalem alone, there was an estimated 2 million Jews during the 1st century. Luke 10:1 says that Jesus sent the 72 in pairs to every town in the region. Without motorized transportation, this task with such little workers seems futile.

Couple application points to put into practice today:
We must become men of great urgency. We’re not promised tomorrow but we must work hard every day the Lord gives us.
Recruit, train, develop and dispatch more laborers. The only way to get more laborers is to be apart of the schooling process.
Take a look around and observe an abundance of spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. We live in a plentiful harvest. Fields don’t harvest themselves. It requires rolling up sleeves and working.
Pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest – the one who brings the fruit.