To serve God in nursing
As Christians, we worship God, enjoy, and become uplifted in the Christian fellowship on Sundays in our churches. The theme of this issue of Christian Nurse International calls us to reflect on how we worship God the rest of the week, in our everyday work. The challenging question is – do my patients, my students, or my colleagues notice that I am a Christian in the way I relate to them and carry out my work? Or is there a great divide in what I say and what I do? In the English language, there is a great and thought-provoking saying: “Walk your talk”. Jesus can be our great role model in this. His everyday life was a worship to God, and through his life, he revealed who God is (John 14:9).
Practical care as worship
In reading the Bible, we find that God puts a lot of interest in the practical wellbeing of others. Think of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 – 37) and how he cleaned and bandaged the man’s wounds, transported him to a safe place and made sure he was taken care of. He even payed for his stay. In Matthew 25:31-46 we see how much it is on the heart of God that we care for bodily needs such as hunger and thirst, and that the body is clothed and kept safe. The sick needs to be looked after and cared for and the lonely, the stranger and those in prison needs companionship. In some culture, such practical and bodily care gives little prestige to engage in for nurses, in others it is seen as a fundamental part of nursing. Jesus invites us to understand a deep secret here: what we do for those who are looked upon as being of little value and interest in our society, we do to the Lord. When we care for our patients in such ways, we walk our talk as Christians, and we worship God in our work place. When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, a bodily and practical action he said to his disciples: I have given you an example, that you also should do what I have done to you (John 13:15), meaning serve each other. Our patients and their families can sense the difference in our care when we do it as a service to God.
I want to draw our attention to two body-parts of the nurse; our hands and our eyes. The hands of skilled and knowledgeable nurses can be powerful tools to heal and help patients and families in illness and distress. A Norwegian nurse and midwife, who went to Nepal as a missionary in the 1950-ies, knew she would face an overwhelming responsibility with little resources. “I have asked God to bless my hands”, she told. After many years of dedicated service, she could witness that God had blessed her hands and protected those in her care from harm. If you have not already asked God to bless your hands, do it today. The nurses’ hands can bring healing, comfort and peace.
Eyes that see
One of the first things we pay attention to when we see a person is the person’s face and eyes. From the face and the eyes, we interpret if the person has time, is interested in us, and is available. Luke (11;34) put it like this: Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eyes are healthy, your full body is filled with light. But when they are unhealthy, your body is full of darkness. Our eyes, and how we are present ourselves is very noticeable for our patients. To have eyes that express love and care can provide hope and strength to our patients. Hagar is one of the first persons in the Old Testament to name God when she says: You are the God who sees me! (Genesis 16:13). What a wonderful name of God – the one who sees. Jesus demonstrated the same character; he saw others – his disciplines, the blind man at the road, the ten leper men, the women at the well, Martha and Mary and so on. To have presence and to see our patients and their family, to see our students and our colleagues is the best way to build relationships and to assess situations and thus to plan and act in nursing.
More to learn from Jesus
There are two more important aspects we can learn from Jesus that have direct relevance for nursing. The first is to take care of ourselves so we can care for others. We need to spend time with God, seek quite time to read and pray. We also need to eat, to sleep and rest. Only when we care for ourselves can we serve others over time. The second lesson to learn is the importance of asking questions. Have you notices in the gospels how many questions Jesus ask to people around him? He wants people to think, reflect and he is interested to listen to what people have to tell. One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is when Jesus asked the blind man by the dusty road to Jericho: What do you want me to do for you? (Luke 18:41). Asking such open question means to have interest in the person and to take time to listen to what is on the persons mind. Such question can also open up for a healing conversation and sharing about the love of God. It can be a way to worship God in our workplace.
Dr. Tove Giske, RN, MPhil, PhD Nurses Christian Fellowship International