I stood in the patient’s room looking at the aftermath of an intense code. The patient was gone. We had transported her up to the ICU, but her chances weren’t great. I had been in codes before, but none quite like this one. This patient was young, mostly healthy, and she had a small child at home. My heart cried out to the Lord, “This is not how it’s supposed to be!”
I sat at the library as one of my students described to me an experience she had during a clinical day. She cried as she told me of a small child rushed to the ER in respiratory distress. She and the hospital staff had worked to save this child, but he didn’t make it. She recalled the mother’s tears as she comforted her, and the father’s denial on seeing his son in distress. “Bethany, this is just not how things are supposed to be! This is not how it’s supposed to be,” the student moaned. We cried together in the library, mourning life lost and the brokenness of the world we live in.
As nurses, we often see and experience things that leave us thinking, “This is not how things are supposed to be.” We see brokenness and death more often and more closely than most people.
Recently I’ve been reading in the Old Testament book of Isaiah; these words from chapter 35 struck me.
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; and the parched ground will become a pool, and the thirsty land springs…and the redeemed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.”
As I mourned situations I’ve experienced or walked through with students, I began to meditate on these words, for honestly, this is not how God intended the world to be. I was encouraged by the truth that God hates death—he hates death so much that he sent Jesus to die and undo all the death and brokenness of the earth. Sometimes I think knowing the Lord makes us feel the weight of brokenness more deeply for we KNOW the promises that are coming. We KNOW the way things are supposed to be—and this isn’t it. Isaiah writes with hope that the desert will be no more—the blind, deaf and lame will be healed, and the desert filled with streams.
As difficult as the situation is, I am so glad that we serve a God who loves us enough to undo death, to not leave us in brokenness, but instead come down to save us. As I am reminded of the brokenness of the world, I will continue to proclaim that this is not the way things are supposed to be. Although it is hard to understand and see, God is working to do away with death and sickness and brokenness once and for all. I pray that God will continue to help me believe this even when life is so far from perfect. I will mourn the ways in which things are not how they are supposed to be. And I will cling to the promises in Isaiah: “Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee!” This is true because God has not and will not leave us in our brokenness.
--Bethany Eckerd, BSN, RN, is a staff nurse and an NCF Campus Staff Minister at Virginia Commonwealth University.