Cold Around The Heart (Daniel 5:20)

Many years ago, I was invited to interview for a dermatopathology position in a state far removed from California. I was flown out to the city first class, greeted at the airport with a limousine, and put up in a very ritzy hotel in the heart of the city downtown. I was duly impressed and this was all before I even met the interviewers!


The dermatology clinic was owned by a couple; the wife was a dermatologist and dermatopathologist and the husband was the CFO. It was an impressive operation they owned,  with over a dozen dermatology offices scattered throughout several nearby states, all sending their biopsies to their central laboratory. They picked me up from the hotel in the morning and first drove me to their home. It was an opulent mansion in the city’s most exclusive neighborhood and featured in several interior decorating and architecture magazines.


After a tour of their home and meeting their two young children, I was whisked away to their laboratory. The wife spent her busy days shuttling back and forth between one dermatology office and the dermatopathology laboratory. She was signing out a very high volume of cases, a level that I was handling with my current job. However, I was not also seeing clinical dermatology patients, I was focused only upon dermatopathology. She was doing both, something I would not be able to handle. It was obvious she definitely needed help.


We broke for lunch and then was given a quick tour of the city. Unlike previous job interviews, I now had a family and was more concerned about living in a city that could adequately address their needs, particularly my son who has Down syndrome. I had already made a request to the couple that I would like to visit schools that specialized in children with special needs, which they previously agreed to do. After meeting for half an hour at one school, his wife suggested we visit one additional school. I was eager but he frowned and said, “We don’t have time for this.”  His dismissive tone was palpable.


Returning to the clinic office, the husband made a very generous job offer. I was thankful but was completely distracted by what I was observing. I was miffed by his seemingly callous attitude to my earlier request to visit the school. His wife was pleasant but clearly overworked; her face and speech betrayed her fatigue. I suspected that she was unwilling to say anything that would even hint at complaining, out of respect and love to her husband…or perhaps it was fear?  I could not escape the conclusion that if he treated his wife like this, what hope would there be for me?


When I returned home, I updated my wife and family of the interview. After praying, we were all in agreement to decline the job offer. While the terms of the contract were generous, it would not be enough for my wife to give up her job and to uproot my entire family. Yet, the overriding and gnawing truth was I thought the husband was cold around the heart and I did not want to work for such a man.


Over fifteen years later, I learned that both he and his wife were investigated by their state’s Attorney General for fraudulent billing to patients and insurance companies. Several dermatologists, who were contracted to work in their clinics, served as whistleblowers, disgruntled that they were not paid for months and appalled at the blatantly illegal practices they were witnessing. The couple was found guilty and fined a stiff penalty of several million dollars. They declared bankruptcy and the wife lost her medical license in the states where the clinics operated. Their once lucrative dermatology business, their mansion, and all of the excess of their extravagant lifestyle were now gone.


But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.

Daniel 5:20 (ESV)


Cold around the heart.


It may be a symptom of more serious issues. This passage from the Book of Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the Babylonian empire, the greatest empire of its day. Instead of acknowledging God as the source of his prosperity, he exalted himself. His heart was hardened and he turned cold to the blessings he had received. God swiftly took his kingdom away from him, reducing him to a life of madness, roaming the countryside like a wild animal.


There was a coldness around the heart of the dermatologist’s husband. His entire family paid a staggering cost, losing everything. God blesses all of us, some receiving more material possessions than others. Instead of using these blessings to justify a selfish and arrogant lifestyle, we should acknowledge that all blessings, material and spiritual, originate with God, and live a life in gratitude to Him and a willingness to share these blessings with others.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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