“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
While I was attending a memorial service for a community member, a local minister made his way over to me. He shared that he believed I had a gift for healing; a healing of the heart because of my compassion he often witnessed.
A gift for healing; a healing of the heart. What could this mean? Over time, I prayed fervently asking the Lord to reveal His plan providing insight into His purpose. Over time, His plan unfolded with clarity during times of my own healing.
Spiritual Care – Spiritual Advocacy
A very close friend and coworker suddenly became ill. She was fighting for her life. She called and asked if I would pray with her in her hospital room before being airlifted to a larger medical facility. We laid her burdens before the Lord. After she was transported, I felt compelled to continue praying over her so I traveled 150 miles to be with her. However; by the time I got to the hospital, she lay in a coma. I held her hand, but there was no response. As I read scripture and prayed over her, she began to breathe heavily making a funny noise as if trying to communicate; I felt a deep soul connection like never before.
It was at that time I realized my ministry – my calling; spiritual advocacy, spiritual care. Supporting others spiritually. I was happy to be with her experiencing a peace and calmness wrapped around the two of us. As my visit concluded, I told her husband I would return the following week to continue praying over her as I felt compelled to be with her again, to care for her spiritually, to hold her heart.
The following week I continued to pray. My faith was unwavering. I was getting excited just to be with her again; to provide spiritual care. As I prepared for my trip, I received a call from her family that the doctors did not expect her to make it through that day. And sure enough, within a few hours she passed away. My “soul” friend got sick and was gone within three weeks.
As the sadness sunk in, the Lord reminded me that this was my calling, spiritual care. However, I questioned my faith. Why wasn’t she healed? God spoke loud and clear to my heart, that my job was to provide spiritual care & support, not to fix her as that was His job. And I was not to question Him. My friend could have suffered for days, weeks, months. I did not know all the information under my little scope of insight. God’s understanding is comprehensive and I needed to trust Him completely.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:9.
God reminded me, we live in a fallen world, bad things happen; it’s a global issue. But Christ overcame the world and through Him there is hope. God can bring good out of bad; His redemptive love.
After a couple of weeks of my friend’s passing, her husband dropped in for a visit bringing gifts; books from her library he thought I would enjoy. Her books spoke to me confirming my call. Pastoral Care. Hospital Chaplaincy. A Healing Presence. Through trials and difficult circumstances, God provides opportunities for us to grow, to serve and honor Him.
Before my friend became ill, we both were enrolled in a certification course on spiritual direction, formation and leadership. She was adamant about introducing spiritual care to whole body healing at the hospital where we worked together. However; I was afraid now to bring this program forward alone in a public entity as we were forbidden to even talk about God. I prayed over the next several months; never in the 14 years of employment as a Director in Administration had I prayed asking the Lord to show me how to serve Him at work until now. The Lord impressed upon my heart that He had been preparing me, equipping me and strategically placing me for such a time as this. I decided to finish the two-year certification program and rally to bring spiritual care to the hospital while He opened doors and softened many hearts.
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,”
Spiritual Care – Caring for people’s hearts
During the first year of the hospital Spiritual Care program, there were 900 spiritual care encounters which not only included care for our patients, but for the staff and physicians as they all were reaching out for spiritual support. Within the very first month, there were 65 patient visits with the largest month hosting 135 spiritual care encounters. I had to start training volunteers to help me. Then the program expanded to include partnering with local churches and community service clubs to assist patients after discharged providing meals, running errands, and continued support through prayer. (By the time I retired 7 years later, the program grew so large that I became the manager of spiritual care and Spiritual Care Chaplain full time with an average hosting 1,400 spiritual care encounters annually. During that time I continued my education in grief recovery and crisis intervention developing an End-of-Life program and facilitating bi-monthly Grief Support and Cancer support Groups.)
As I reflect back, the spiritual care program has been extremely effective; however, I had no idea the effect it would have on me. I am not the same person. My life has changed dramatically; my heart has transformed. I am providing spiritual care to community members I thought had wronged me, those I thought would be obstacles for this program; those I feared. But God had a much bigger plan.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.
Now these people are my patients. I am kneeling next to them, holding their hands, praying with them, and talking with some about salvation. Our hearts have aligned through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This program has changed my life through a cleansing of my heart. It has provided a gift to me, my ministry – a healing of the heart …
a healing of my own heart… Spiritual Care.