Boldness and Courage

It was a usual start of a day at work for me, that’s what I thought. I changed into scrubs, went in to the staff room, checked the patient allocation, listened to the handover, went straight into my patient’s bedside, received a more detailed endorsement, assessed the patient. But that day, it was a little different. Compared to the usual patients in the Neuro Critical Care Unit (most are sedated, on breathing machine, confused, with altered level of consciousness and cognition) my patient was conscious, coherent, ambulatory, basically independent.

It was a special morning for this patient as the need for isolation due to flu has been lifted, thus, some sort of freedom has been given to him, after seven days of being confined in a room, most of the time on his own. I spoke to him, established rapport, served his breakfast, given his medications, and even assisted him for a shower (a proper one after a week). His wife and daughter even visited him that morning saying that he must be feeling “more human” because of that. I also accompanied them for lunch off the unit. I saw how such simple activity can change someone’s mood and brighten one’s face, and such positivity radiated towards other people, including me.

That same day, I managed to transfer him to our High Dependency Unit, where the patients who are stable enough to be out of the Intensive Care Unit are being looked after. I handed over to my colleague then said my goodbye to my patient. I told him that hopefully, I will see him back for a visit, fully recovered, or maybe, randomly outside of the hospital. He smiled and thanked me. I then went back to the unit and spent the rest of the afternoon helping out my other colleagues since I was left with no patient.

The following day, I came back for another shift, same routine same place but unaware of a surprise that will come my way. I was changing into scrubs in the dressing room when one of the kitchen staff spoke to me. He said, “Were you the one looking after the man in one of the siderooms yesterday?”. I thought about it and answered yes. He then responded and said, “Well that patient died”. I felt very surprised and said, “You must be mistaken, he was doing very well. We even went to the concourse yesterday when he had lunch with his family and he was just waiting for a bed in the ward”. Unfortunately, this sad news was confirmed to be true during the handover. Some of my colleagues also asked me if I have heard the news.

I don’t usually get emotionally attached to patients and same is true in this instance. But how can this news leave my mind all over the place, me staring blankly, not hearing anything outside of my head. That guy whom I spent my entire morning with, doing well, on his way to recovery, passed away last night. I felt sad. I thought of how his family was feeling, what happened and what were the things that lead to this. Amidst all these queries, the glaring question was, what have I done? Or, in this case, there was something important that I failed to do. It was not something medically related, but far more than that.

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

[19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Mark 16:15 NIV

[15] He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

I knew this command and I long to obey it. But how come I failed to do it this time?Why didn’t I take that opportunity to share the good news to this person? It is very seldom for me to look after someone whom I can talk to, and I didn’t make use of that opportunity. I often encourage other people to share the gospel, but I my self, was not able to do so. I felt like his blood was on my hands.

Ezekiel 3:17-18 NIV

[17] “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. [18] When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die, ‘ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.

In the middle of the disappointment towards my self, I still find the bright light in all of this. I was reminded that I cannot be complacent. Every given opportunity to share the gospel should be taken, for we are not certain on when our lives will come to an end. My purpose in this world should not be on my job, or anything that keeps me busy and takes my eyes away from what God has been asking me to do. This circumstance also made me check my heart. It lead me to assess my self if I have the same compassion that Paul had for the lost as seen in Romans chapter 9 and the rest of his works. Boldness and courage to proclaim the Kingdom of God, I didn’t exhibit these two qualities at that moment, and I have been praying for me to have them. Truly, in everything that I do, it should be for the glory of God, not for my pleasure, entertainment or desires.

Acts 28:30-31 NIV

[30] For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. [31] He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

cto the owner of the photo

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God’s Way, My Way?

“Is this what you really want to be doing?”. This question came up in a casual conversation with one of our doctors in the unit while I was working. A lot of things came up into my mind as to why that question popped out, and what it meant. Was it like, “Is this what you really want to be doing? (because I don’t think you are good at this). That sounded too negative and I don’t think he is that mean to imply it as such . Or was it “Is this what you really want to be doing? (Because if you’ll ask me, I’m not sure if I really want to be a doctor). I don’t think it was a sort of projection on his part, as he is one of the excellent doctors that I’ve met, with a very tactile compassion for the patients. Or, probably, the question was plainly as it was. “Is this what you really want to be doing?” My response? “I applied for this job when I saw an opening because my background back home was the same, although we didn’t cater to the same cases as we have here.” I took it like an interview question and responded in a manner wherein I thought he will hear what he wanted to hear. But thinking about it, did I really answer his question? It was a question that can be answered by a Yes or a No. And this question lingered.

As I pondered upon that inquiry, a lot of thoughts came up. Is this really what I want? In fact, I dreamt and still is dreaming of being a doctor like him. However, for financial and practical reasons, it didn’t or can’t push through. I also wanted to become a journalist, a writer, or be involved in any career related to arts, but, too pessimistic and too unsure if I can excel in a sea of talented, free-spirited people, filled with unique ideas. It has always been in my thought to have a job where in I won’t be boxed in a set of standards just as I am, being a nurse. Or, why didn’t I just pursue a career in music? It has always been what people have known me for being good at. I have a background in singing for our university chorale, and a number of people often say that I have the voice. But why am I doing what I am doing today? The answer came up when my girlfriend shared a text from the bible one morning.

Proverbs 16:3 NIV

[3] Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

It is true. In anything or everything that we do, it is vital to offer it to the Lord, as a service to Him. It is not just a group of ill people that I am looking after at work, but I am giving care to God’s creations, sons and daughters. And as I opened my bible and read though the entirety of the chapter, more revelations have impressed over me.

Proverbs 16:1-4 NIV

[1] To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. [2] All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. [3] Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. [4] The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster.

It is always easy for us, people, to long for something, to dream of something, and to get disappointed when things do not go according to our plans. It is easy for us to question our selves and our abilities everytime we get in a situation wherein we lose control and everything turns into something that is far from what we have envisioned to be. Why? We tend to forget that no matter how big the effort we pour into something, there is still always a chance that things won’t work out. It will always be the will of God that will prevail. We should learn how to commit everything to His hands, big or small and have faith that whatever the outcome may be, that is what God’s will is. It is usually a portion of a bigger picture, a picture that will be revealed in His time.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV

[21] Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

So how would I know if I am walking the path where the Lord leads me into? I remember the this passage from the book of Mark.

Mark 1:35-39 NIV

[35] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [36] Simon and his companions went to look for him, [37] and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” [38] Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” [39] So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Prayer, is a privilege that we have, but also something that we tend to not give enough time for. Prayer is our way of communicating anything and everything to our Father. It is our way to directly speak out our thoughts, our desires, our adoration, or repentance to our King. Jesus, in verse 35, exhibits how vital an encounter with God the Father is, that he got up very early in the morning and went off into a solitary place to pray.

The succeeding verses depict how faithful Jesus is to God the father. It is true, according to his disciples, everyone was looking for Him, insinuating that their work in that place was not finished yet. But because Jesus was called to go somewhere else, to the nearby villages, that was what He did and obeyed. He followed the path that the Lord has set for Him. For us humans, having this innate character of pride and self reliance, lead to us failing to obey like what Jesus has done and instead we remain stiff necked and choose a way that we reckon as the best track.

So, “Is this what I really want to be doing?” I guess in a human understanding, no it is not. But knowing that there is a reason why I am here and that a lot of things are still to be revealed, I hold on to the thought of the bigger picture that God has in store. Thinking about it, some of the pieces have already been turned. Having the opportunity to work as a nurse here in the UK comes the privilege and responsibility to serve God in one of His ministries in the church. That privilege to be able to use my talent in singing to lead His people to songs of praise is something that I have never imagined. The opportunity to be part of a ministry that enables me to carry out the great commission of spreading the gospel is a portion of God’s plan in my life. At the end of the day, it is not what I want that truly matters. The most important thing is the will of the Lord, His glory, His sovereignty and His dominion over everything.

Warmth, Not Being Cold…

Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

[11] So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, [12] to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up [13] until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

It was a cold December morning, I was walking along my everyday foot path from the hospital where I work, back to the flat where I live. One scene caught my attention and stirred something inside of me. I saw a lady, crouched and clutching a ginger cat in her arms. It was quite windy and chilly at 9 degrees at that time. Not minding the discomfort of being in the cold, she remained in that position probably concerned for the life of this feline. I have heard stories that this cat is usually seen around that area, not sure if it has an owner or not. A question came into my mind.

If this lady can endure what could be an unbearable situation to give comfort to a cat, why can’t we, for most of the time show the same compassion to the people around us? God commands us to love our neighbours, to love one another, but why is it not easy for us to do so? And worse, at times, we tend to even become indifferent not only to the unbelievers, but to our brothers and sisters in Christ as well.

Yes, it is true, we have received the gift of salvation though faith, by the grace of God, when He sent His only begotten son to die for us at the cross of calvary. But does it end there? Oftentimes, if not all the time, we have the tendency to feel satisfied with focusing our eyes just on ourselves, forgetting what God has commanded us.

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

[19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We choose self preservation. We choose to avoid persecution, though we all know what God’s promise is in Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We are scared to get out of our comfort zones and to take up our cross as mentioned in Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” We choose to listen to the negativities inside our head and focus on our weaknesses though we know that if we put our trust in the Lord fully, he will be with us, He will equip us with the things that we need and that we can cast out our fears with faith. We should always remember that the Spirit that was with Jesus when He made the miracles in the past, is the same Spirit that resides in us right now.

Looking back onto the lady with a cat tucked in her arms, we may be able to say that what could have made it easier for the her to endure such cold and discomfort was actually the comfort that she felt through the affection coming from the gentle animal. That can be true, and that mirrors us, humans too. It is always easier to do good and to make sacrifices for others if we know that we will receive something in return. Unfortunately, most of our efforts do not always receive reciprocity.

How many times have we reached out to other people and shared our testimonies of the goodness of God, our devotions, and never received a single response of appreciation in return? How many times have we attempted to engage and reach out to the lost or even to our brothers and sisters, but got ignored? It is true that it is saddening, frustrating and heartbreaking at times that no matter how pure or sincere our intentions are, we tend to get brushed aside. But in circumstances like these, we learn compassion. We develop compassion that God showed to us. We harness compassion that was shown by the people who have prayed for us, the people who shared the gospel to us, the people that we did ignore in the past when were lost and dead to sin.

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

[12] Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. [13] Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. [14] And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

People can be cold, so is the world. But we are not called to please men (Galatians 1:10). Let us continue to fight the good fight, and spread the gospel though our works, though our testimonies and through the word of God. And if we get disheartened and when our weaknesses get the best of us, we should always remember this text from the book of second Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

[16] Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. [17] For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. [18] So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.