“I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you. And I will praise Your name forever and ever.” — Psalm 145:1-2
Anika Magwood, now a retired nurse of 30 years, remembers her faith being shaken after a little boy died in her arms in the 1980s.
Then, she was working as a missionary nurse during a measles outbreak in Africa. The 1980s was before widespread vaccination, and during that time, measles killed more than 2 million people annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
“Children were dying in our arms at a rate of about eight an hour,” said Magwood, a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “It was horrible. … As a health care professional, you’re doing everything physically possible. Everything. Your mind is going a thousand miles an hour — am I forgetting anything that could save this life? But as a Christian nurse, it was, ‘Lord, bring to my memory anything I may be forgetting. Lord, help me to do this right.’”
Healthcare workers all over the globe are doing their absolute best in the face of COVID-19, and as the number of confirmed cases climb, so do the number of those in recovery. But any cause for celebration is muted because too many people aren’t making it. Those cases can trigger some raw questions in the hearts of professionals working tirelessly to help.
Magwood said she took her questions straight to God after that 6-year-old Ghanaian boy didn’t survive.
“My faith was really shaken,” she said. “I was angry with God. I said, ‘Why did we have to go all the way to Africa when we’re totally powerless anyway? Why did we have to come here if we can’t even save this little boy?’ I heard the Lord (in my heart):
“You are so success-driven, Anika. If you were to never see anyone healed in your hands, would you still follow Me and go where I send you?
“Right there I had to make the commitment after I thought about it. It didn’t take long for me to say, ‘Yes, Lord. I’m sorry.’”
Following where the Lord leads isn’t an easy challenge. It’s heartbreaking and dangerous on so many levels. But Magwood found encouragement as she deepened her walk with the Lord.
“We have to focus on His greatness in the midst of crisis,” she said. “In the midst of the crisis and pain and confusion and even death, we can never stop declaring the greatness of God.”
Here are five Biblical truths that spurred her on and kept her grounded. Please share them with a health care professional in your own life:
The Whole Patient Matters
Health care professionals are warriors who try to do everything they can to save someone’s physical life. But as a Christian, don’t lose sight of the spiritual side. Introduce as many people as you can to Jesus. That doesn’t mean you walk in a room preaching. Many hospitals won’t stand for that. But in a time when visitors are especially limited, the presence of a believer can brighten the room.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” — Hebrews 13:16
Every Moment Is a Gift
It’s not by accident this person is your patient. As God leads, take a few minutes to talk with a scared patient or quietly sing worship songs in their room. Recite Scripture quietly even as you respond to emergency codes. Magwood remembers saying pieces of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus.” Never turn down a request to pray, even briefly.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13
You Need Rest, Too
When your shift ends, take time to sit quietly before the Lord. Be honest if you need to say something, but then listen. “Sit alone and listen to the voice of God speak to you,” she said. “That is what will pass all understanding and peace will engulf them when they listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.”
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” — Psalm 62:5-6
Trust in the Lord
Rest in His promises. Talk openly, honestly with God, but stop second-guessing how you handled things during your shift. Magwood encouraged, “We need to rest in the assurance that God is the ultimate One in control of life and death.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” — Proverbs 3:5
Walk Continuously in Peace
The enemy of your soul knows you’re still bothered by that one outcome with that one patient. “Our enemy, he continuously bombards you with doubt so you have to refocus again,” Magwood said. “Steadfast of mind. That’s not a quick word. You have to work on keeping your mind steadfast. You cannot let the negative thoughts from the enemy enter again and put doubt in your mind because then you will lose that perfect peace.”
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
— Isaiah 26:3-4
Above all else, remember God is in control. He loves you. He loves your patients. Lean on Him.
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