In the Night
I pull my coat on, grab my bag, and head out into the night—though sometimes I'd prefer to be heading to bed instead of to work. But work is a privilege. I, along with an amazing team, look after some of the very vulnerable, who know their days are counted, and provide care for their families too. Cups of tea, cake, midnight laundry, memory making, chats, silence, medicines, laughter, sleepless nights, tears, cuddles, music, rest. These are the rhythms and routines of working in a hospice for children. We try to enhance life. And then we provide care for the child and their family up until death. And then we attempt to care, and to ease the practical burden, after the worst has happened.
I am a nurse. I am also a Christian. Is there a tension? Sometimes, definitely. The frequent encounters with very real life and very real death cause me to consider how Christ enters into it all. How is what I've read in the Bible that week relevant to the sorrows I see, to the sorrows families face?
In the Sorrow
I read Job last year. It was just “next” on the reading plan, and I've read it before. I was not expecting to learn anything in particular and I read it quite quickly, rather than stopping to really study it. I didn't use commentaries or study materials. I didn't underline things or write notes. I was probably aiming to get through it and tick it off the list. But instead, it was a significant read.
Most people probably know Job is about suffering, but that is not what struck me on this occasion of reading it. After Job’s suffering, his friends try to provide insight and advice and possible explanations. This discussion rumbles on. And on. Until the end of chapter 37.
Then, suddenly, God enters the conversation. And everything changes. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place … Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?” (Job 38:4, 12, 31)
Read Job 38 and 39. Read it all. After so many human attempts at explanation, God almost takes my breath away. And if I'm honest, that does not happen very often. Sometimes we, with our human perspective, can think that if we just talk about things enough, or study theology enough, or are clever enough, that we will be able to fully understand God.
In the Unknown
To understand why I had to sit in a hospital, waiting for my husband's diagnosis. To understand why one friend is winning the battle with cancer and another friend has lost. To understand why our spare room is still spare. To understand why hospice for children even has to exist.
We like to understand. But I'm not sure that is what the Bible always offers. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). His ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
Does this provide comfort? To be honest—sometimes, not really.
I would like to grasp things more. I would like to place events into neat little organized boxes. But that is often not His way.
Deuteronomy 29:29a says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God;” there are many things that we have no need to understand. And somehow that fact is a comfort. I will study and seek to learn more about God, and to grow in relationship with Him, but I do not need to understand it all. I won’t, this side of eternity. And so I keep reading His Word and praying and trusting that somehow, no matter how much I do or do not understand, “He will hold me fast.”
Catherine has lived in various places around the United Kingdom and particularly likes to be by the sea. She has been in the world of nursing for more than a decade and finds it to be a challenging and joyful privilege. Catherine loves studying God’s word and is thinking about how she can care for younger women more and encourage them in their walk with Christ.