I recently took a new job at a major medical center in the southeast. As I was going through orientation, I was told again and again how I would see sicker, more acutely ill patients there than I had ever seen in other hospitals. I was told that patients come to this facility from all over the region when they have exhausted their local healthcare resources and are hoping, at last, for help.
At first, I thought they were just bragging.
I guess that seems odd to someone outside the medical field, but healthcare workers tend to talk about their “war stories”. The cases that were particularly difficult, unusual, or traumatic.
Knowing this to be true, could what they were saying about this hospital actually be accurate? I mean, really. Yet after a few months of employment, I have to admit it is accurate. I have seen things at this facility in the last two of months that I have never even heard of in my twenty years of nursing experience. I have seen tremendous suffering.
My job responsibilities take me all over the hospital campus into almost every unit on the property at one time or another.
At almost a thousand beds in the hospital, I cover quite a bit of ground each day, and I look into the faces of patients and family members who carry such heavy burdens. As shocking as it may sound to those who know me, I am often at a loss for words when I hear their stories.
I stood in church today and sang along with the worship leader to a song by Hillsong called, You Hold Me Now. As the lyrics of this powerful song flowed through me, I was unexpectedly shaken as I began to see the faces of those I had cared for this last week flash before my eyes. Tears began to flow down my face as I sang:
On that day when I see
All that You have for me
When I see You face to face
There surrounded by Your grace
All my fears swept away
In the light of your embrace
When Your love is all I need
And forever I am free
Where the streets are made of gold
In Your presence here to hold
Let these songs of heaven rise to you alone
No weeping, no hurt or pain
No suffering You hold me now
You hold me now
No darkness, no sickness,
You hold me now,
You hold me now
The young mother in ICU on a ventilator who only three weeks before had given birth to a baby girl- now stricken with pregnancy induced cancer.
The brown-eyed twenty-four year old young man forever physically and mentally handicapped from an ATV accident, his mother at his side letting go of the hopes and dreams she had held for him.
Another young mother of three hoping to live long enough to celebrate her baby’s first birthday in two weeks. Her husband now faced with bringing up three young children without her.
The amazing independent-minded paraplegic praying that the antibiotics will save his legs from amputation.
My new co-workers tried to warn me that I would see these things. That I would have to get used to them.
This morning in church I decided I don’t want to get used to them. I don’t want to grow so accustomed to the suffering that it no longer points to anything for me. Because for me it points to something very significant. That one day this suffering will be over.The lyrics of You Hold Me Now will then be realized.
Life on this earth can be wonderful, unbelievably so, at times. But at other times, life can be so unbelievably hard and seemingly unfair. But thankfully we have a hope in Christ. We have the assurance of eternal life in a place devoid of the suffering of this life.
So as I stood and worshipped this morning, I prayed for those patients whose lives I was blessed to cross paths with this week, and who allowed me the privilege of holding their hand, of helping where I could, and of encouraging them when I couldn’t.