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First Thoughts

In Praise of Nurses

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

Hard Nights in the Hospital

When it comes to hospital stays, I’m now something of an expert. Since the fall of 2020, I’ve spent roughly 15 nights in the hospital. That is not as much time as some have spent in the hospital, but it is more than most. For me, 15 nights means I’ve spent more time in the hospital than I have in hotels, visiting relatives, or having sleepovers with my kids.

Those 15 nights were the hardest and most uncomfortable ones I’ve ever spent on planet earth. Most of them were in the Neuro-ICU. You don’t get in there unless you need a lot of help. Your brain is fragile, you need constant monitoring, you require powerful medication, you can’t get up to the toilet, and you’re hooked up to countless wires and tubes.

During those nights, I was in spiritual turmoil as much as physical. Drifting in and out of consciousness, I was only aware enough to feel stabs of pain, to wonder if the various surgeries worked, to ask about my family, and to cry out to God for mercy.

As I look back on those horrible 15 nights, I’m aware that one of God’s most tangible answers to those prayers for mercy was the kind gift of countless nurses.

God’s Mercy Through a Nurse

For the rest of my life, I will never be able to look at a nurse without seeing the kind provision of God himself.

So many nurses have helped me that I could never keep track of all of them. Just some of their names were Esmerelda, Tamara, Janene, Beth, Emily, Charity, Jeric, Geoff, Jessica, Joy, Brooke, and Linda. Even when I couldn’t speak, I would always squint to see the precious name on the badge so I could pray for them. I’ve also prayed for nurses by face when I couldn’t remember your name, but I was thankful for your kindness to me during those dark nights. Without you, those nights would have been unbearable. Without you, I couldn’t have made it.

Precious nurses have served me in countless ways. They were kind when I was crying out in agony; they were gentle when they needed to cause pain in order to help; they gave me drugs that took the edge off excruciating pain; they helped me use the bathroom when I couldn’t get out of bed, they answered my questions, they were kind to my family, they advocated for me with doctors. Some prayed for me. Two held my hands while I cried in agony and sorrow. One kind lady squeezed my shoulder and encouraged me in a whisper that it wouldn’t always feel this way. I couldn’t see her face, but her words gave me comfort.

In a hard world where rogue blood vessels attack important nerves, where sensitive brain tissues are reluctant to grow back together, where tumors spread, and where cells die, sometimes you just have to go to the hospital.

When you get there, I hope you will recognize one of God’s most precious gifts—it’s the gift of a nurse.

The Kind Gift of a Nurse

For all you nurses out there—for those I can remember, and those I can’t; for those who helped me, and those who were helping others—I wish I could look you in the eye and tell you how much you mean to me. I wish you could hear me say how grateful I am for all you have done to serve my family and me.

Since I can’t say that to each of you individually, I’m saying it here to all of you.

One of the most precious promises of God to his people comes from the prophet Isaiah when he says, For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13).

In the darkest 15 nights of my life, I saw and felt the comforting hand of God bringing aid and removing fear. That gracious hand of God came through the countless nurses ministering the comfort and care of God himself. For the rest of my life, I will be thankful for these treasured people, for all the ways they cared for me, and for allowing me to witness the grace of God through the work of a nurse.

Dr. Heath Lambert is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He is the author of several books, including The Great Love of God: Encountering God’s Heart for a Hostile World. 

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