How to Talk About Miracles

Here's a helpful tool to help doctors handle discussions about miracles.

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A doctor comforting a patient

Doctors are trained to handle pretty much any medical question posed by a patient. “Which course of treatment do you recommend?” “Will it hurt?” “What’s the recovery process like?”  

But what happens when patients start talking about something a little less concrete–like miracles? That’s when things can get tricky, especially if the doctor doesn’t believe in the miraculous.

Luckily, a medical team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has come up with a handy mnemonic tool–called AMEN (Affirm, Meet, Educate, No matter what)–to help doctors better handle discussions about miracles. After all, hospitals are no strangers to the miraculous. God’s wonder certainly seems to reach us most when we’re at our lowest. And spirituality can play a significant role in a patient’s recovery process.

AMEN is a four-step process. It starts by affirming the beliefs of a patient; then meeting the patient or their family where they are–including, sometimes, in prayer; then educating patients as a medical provider; then, no matter what, assuring patients of a commitment to them.

“I use the AMEN mnemonic pretty much every day,” Dr. Thomas Smith, director of palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins, told Time. “Maybe my patients need more miracles than other doctors’ patients, but it is a common occurrence and an underlying theme in many people’s lives.”

That got me thinking: Maybe the AMEN method shouldn’t be limited to doctors. I have a feeling it can work wonders for us non-medical folks too. After all, don’t we all need a reminder to stay open-minded to miracles, especially in our encounters with others?

When a friend asks for advice and mentions miracles, it’s easy to look for a more practical solution and secretly think the worst. But maybe we can take a different approach. Acknowledge the need for a miracle, meet together in prayer, explore all options for a solution and stay supportive... no matter what. A prescription for hope.

So the next time someone tells me they’re wishing, praying, searching for a miracle? I’m going to answer with a resounding AMEN!

How do you talk miracles with others? Share your story below!

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