Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! | Psalm 143: 10
This time last year I had accepted a job offer to work in the inpatient oncology department at the hospital. I was fresh out of school, and I could not believe that God had answered my prayers. I had this vision of what it would look like to step into the workforce, that I could kick cancer’s butt, and that I could use this opportunity to spread the hope of Jesus to others. However, reality was nowhere near that vision.
As I began working, I encountered people of every walk of life. Yes, they all had cancer, and they were acutely ill. I knew that going into this job. What I was not prepared for was how sick my patients truly were, how situations could drastically nosedive to the worst case scenario, how much of myself I would invest, and how powerless I truly felt at the end of the day. I could literally go on and on with the list, but the crux of the matter was that I realized that I literally had no control. As hard as I tried and as many tests, labs, medications, etc. I ordered, I couldn’t determine anyone’s outcome. There have been so many times that I felt completely helpless as my patient struggled to just get through the day!
As months passed by and my responsibilities increased, I just felt a burden of inadequacy which led to at times this nearly suffocating anxiety. Yes, I recognized that I couldn’t heal the cancer, but I really thought that maybe I could fix the other things long enough to delay the worst. Was I really just delusional to think I could really make a difference? With these thoughts constantly on my mind, I was beginning to feel hopeless and burnt out. I was starting to think, “What’s the point? Why should I keep doing this every week?”
Well, I knew that me, myself, and I were not getting anywhere. I finally had to do some soul searching with Jesus, and the conclusion was that despite my best efforts and intentions I had no control over my life let alone the lives of others. God is the author of life, and only He knows how many days are in each person’s life. All I can do is pray for wisdom and strength on a daily basis. His guiding hand is dependable and unrelenting, and I constantly have to say to myself, “Thy will be done.”
Those words are incredibly difficult to say because it requires complete surrender on my part in a situation where I already feel completely vulnerable. When I do surrender, saying those words, “Thy will be done” leaves a sense of peace in my soul because I know that MY all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing God has everything in control. Sure, there are plenty of times when I don’t understand God’s plans, and I question why He places me in situations that are completely out of my comfort zone. When you have a chance, I highly recommend reading Psalm 143 in its entirety. It is a Psalm of David during a time that David was fleeing from His enemies which forced him to literally seek God as a refuge.
Last week, I had to work seven days straight, and at first, I was very anxious about what I would face. Well, over the course of seven days, I had patients who were septic, had worsening cancer, developed worsening complications, required multiple specialties to be involved, and were at risk of decompensating to the point of possibly transferring to the ICU. Honestly, my heart rate goes up just thinking about it, but by the grace of God He carried me through that minefield.
Just when I thought I was completely drained, one of my patients surprised me with a birthday card! I was so taken aback, and I couldn’t believe my ears when my patient and his wife told me that they were grateful to have me as a provider. Needless to say, we were all teary eyed and couldn’t look at each other for a solid minute. Whether that patient realized it or not, I truly believe that God used him to be an encouragement to me exactly when I needed it and to be a reminder that God has placed me in this place at this time for His creation for a very specific reason. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring or how sick my patients will be when I walk through the doors of the hospital, but I have a great Physician who is sovereign, in control, and never taken by surprise.