Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
May 12 is observed as International Nurses Day. We are grateful to God for the selfless services nurses world-over put for the blessing of humanity. The International Council of Nurses records that atleast 1500 nurses from atleast 44 nations have died after contracting Covid-19 from the patients they treated (in a press release done in October 2020 which they readily say is an underestimation).
Sharath Ramesh Kuniyl writes these lines as he reviewed Virus, a Malayalam movie, for The Week magazine: ‘Aashiq Abu’s Virus is a fitting tribute to them and several other faceless, nameless persons who helped contain and fight the Nipah virus. A series of deaths in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in May 2018 threw the doctors and state administration into a tizzy as they struggled to identify the disease and the source. Even after it was identified, there was no vaccination or treatment protocol for it. Fear of the unknown spawned fake news, conspiracy theories and spread panic’ (June 7, 2019). Rima Kallingal played the character of Akhila ‘the Kerala nurse Lini Puthuserry, who succumbed to the rare Nipah infection during its outbreak after (heroically) caring for the first known casualty in the state’ (The Indian Express, Dec. 6, 2019).
What does the Bible, God’s Word in human words, say to nurses? Here is what I learnt when I meditated on the Bible passages that speak about nurses:
Continue to Make a Difference To One Life At A Time!
When Rebekah was sent by the elders in her family to go with Eliazer, the servant of Abraham, after she consented to marry Abraham’s son, Issac, “her nurse” was also sent along with her (Gen. 24:59). The Bible mentions this nurse by name when she died – Deborah (Gen. 35:8). She was not as famous as the other Deborah, the judge of Israel, who was a prophetess and poet. But she did make a difference to the life of Rebekah. Rebekah’s parents wanted her to travel with her as she went far from home to marry a man who was literally a stranger. They believed the nurse Deborah’s presence will be reassuring for their precious daughter. Deborah, the nurse of Rebekah, clearly made an positive impact in Rebekah’s life.
As a nurse, you may not find have the arc-lights on you. The arc-lights may be on the doctor, the surgeon, etc. But take heart. You can touch the world one person at a time, the way nurse Deborah served Rebekah till death. When you care for a patient, think of Rebekah. You are a “nurse” Deborah for that patient “Rebekah”! The God who recorded a nurse’s name in His Book, knows your name and cheers you as you about making a difference to this planet, by caring for one patient by one patient, patiently.
See Each Patient As God-Sent To Be Cared For By You!
Evil ruler Pharaoh issued a command that ‘every boy who is born to the Hebrews’ in his kingdom must be ‘thrown into the Nile’ (Exodus 1:22, Voice). But Moses’ mother refused to obey this command. Instead of throwing her baby into the Nile, she arranged that her baby be towed in that monstrous River on a miniature boat she herself would create. She placed her baby in ‘a basket made of reeds, sealed with tar and pitch’ and ‘wedged the basket among the reds along the edge of the Nile River’ (Exodus 2:3, Voice). I am sure she prayed that her precious son will be miraculously saved by God from menacing crocodiles that perhaps lived in that area. This floating basket that carried little Moses (that was the baby’s name!) caught the attention of daughter of Pharaoh who happened to be bathing the very spot this basket had miraculously meandered towards. Moses’ sister was secretly watching her baby brother floating in the Nile dangerously. When Pharoah’s daughter recognized her brother to be a Hebrew child, she emerged from the place she hid and said: “Would you like me to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for you?” (Exodus 2:7, Voice). To cut a long story short – the mother of Mother was paid by Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse her own son (Exodus 2:9). She faithfully fulfilled her role as a nurse and brought back Moses to Pharoah’s daughter, later on (Exodus 2:10). Each time the nurse of Moses – who was also his biological mother – took at his angelic face, she knew that this ‘baby patient’ of hers was God-sent to land on her lap!
Dear nurse, do you grumble and growl because you were assigned to take care of that particular patient – a difficult-to-handle patient? Don’t! See that patient as God-sent into your Ward so that you would be able to take good care of him, thinking of the Bible story of Moses’ nurse in Exodus 2! This attitude will take you to the altitude that God has for you in your life and profession!
Be Proactive In Your Work As A Nurse
When God blessed Boaz and Ruth with a baby boy, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, volunteered to be the child’s nurse (Ruth 4:13-16). The Scripture says, “Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse” (Ruth 4:16 ESV). Naomi spent so much time caring for that little boy – Obed who became grandfather of the great king David – that the women of the neighborhood started calling Naomi as the mother of the baby (though she was only the grandmother) (See Ruth 4:17)! Naomi did not say this (though she could have said this as a typical mother-in-law): “Why should I care for little Obed? Let his mom, Ruth, take care of him! What other job does she have in this world? Why should I give her loads of free time to keep romancing her new husband ignoring me totally – me who is taking caring of her bundle of joy – Obed?!”
When you work as a nurse in a hospital do not just be content doing the bare minimum. Look for fresh opportunities to serve patients and the hospital. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” – that is the what the Lord wants us to do no matter what profession we are in (Colossians 3:23 NLT). If you merely work for a salary then you will only want to do the bare minimum. But since you work for the Savior primarily, you must proactively do the maximum in your job as a nurse.
Do not be like the careless nurse which 2 Samuel 4:4 talks about: ‘Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was disabled in both feet. He was five years old when the news of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse picked him up and fled. But it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and could no longer walk. And his name was Mephibosheth’ (NASB). On 10 February 2019, the newspapers reported this shocking news: the medical team ‘left a pair of six-inch surgical scissors inside a patient’s stomach during a hernia operation, sparking outrage’. A Christ-following nurse would shun all carelessness and casualness which may been the cause such terrible things to happen! A believer nurse’s work cannot be categorized as mediocre work and lazy work. Her work will be of top-notch quality.
There is another way in which you can proactive as a nurse. You can deliberately and proactively choose to sacrificially serve in Mission Hospitals located in Gospel-starved parts of India – even North India – rather than serve elsewhere. When God said, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Me?” he was not specifically speaking to Isaiah. It was a general call. However, Isaiah volunteered to go for God by saying “Here am I – send me!” Post that, God sent Isaiah to a needy area! Read that story all over again in Isaiah 6 and choose to be a volunteer missionary nurse to a difficult area! You can sacrificially choose to be a nurse in Tripoli (capital of Libya, part of North Africa, one of the world most unevangelized belts), rather than in churches-galore Texas, imitating Isaiah, discerning God’s missionary call!
Bring God’s Presence Into the Lives of Your Patients
Evil Queen Athaliah wanted to wipe out the last male survivor in the line of David (2 Kings 11:1). The great promise that God made to David through Prophet Nathan that a person from David’s physical line would sit on the throne of Israel was under visible threat (II Sam. 7:12-16). That’s when God used an ordinary nurse to change the situation of dire straits. Hear that not-to-familiar-to-most-of-us story straight from Scripture: ‘But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land’ (II Kings 11:2-3). This unnamed nurse shielded the last remaining male survivor from David’s family in the temple of the Lord for six long years!
The patients you treat may never walk into the temple of the Lord – a local church. But you are to be a living-moving temple of the Lord for that patient (I Peter 2:5)! That patient you treat must feel the living God’s very presence in that hospital room! That is why how you react to situations and the kind of language you use in the hospital ward matters. Through your life and lips you must seek to magnify Christ in the hospital you work! Do not ruin the Christian witness in the hospital you work by the secret extra-marital affairs you may perhaps have in the almost-abandoned Christian Mission hospitals you serve in because you wrongly think no body is watching you!
May the Lord bless you as strive to be the nurse He wants you to be!
(This article by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj was published by Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine in its May 2021 edition. Duke, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. Gehenna is the word Jesus used for hell. Duke’s ministry is reader-supported. Find out more via WhatsApping the author at 91-8886040605 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may follow him at http://www.instagram.com/dukejeyaraj or at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).