“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 few years ago, a very close friend became ill suddenly. 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. By the time I got to the hospital, she lay in a coma. I held her hand, but 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 between us. I was happy to be with her experiencing a peace and calmness wrapped around 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, to care for her spiritually, to hold her heart.
The following week I continued to pray. My faith was unwavering. I was getting excited to provide spiritual care; to be her spiritual advocate. As I prepared for my trip, I received a call that the doctors did not expect her to make it through that day. Within a few hours she passed away.
As the sadness sunk in, the Lord impressed upon my heart that this was my calling. Spiritual care; spiritual advocacy. However, I questioned my faith. Why wasn’t she healed? God spoke loud and clear that my job was to provide spiritual care, not to fix her. My friend could have suffered for days, months, even years. I did not know all the information. God’s understanding is comprehensive and I need 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.
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.
Because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen. But Christ overcame the world and through Him there is hope. I believe through trials and circumstances, God provides opportunities for us to grow, to serve Him and to honor Him. I believe my friend was a gift from God to open my eyes to His calling.
Before my friend took ill, we 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 because the hospital is a public entity. So I prayed and researched it for months. Over the next several months, the Lord softened many hearts and opened many doors. Never in the 14 years of employment had I prayed asking the Lord to show me how to serve Him at work until now. The Lord gave me courage and impressed upon my heart that He had been preparing me, equipping me strategically placing me for such a time as this…I decided to finish the certified course and to bring spiritual care to the hospital.
“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
We just celebrated completion of the program’s first year with a total of 900 spiritual care encounters which not only included care for our patients, but for our staff and physicians as they are reaching out for support as well. Within the very first month, we hosted 65 patient visits with our biggest month hosting 135 spiritual care encounters. The program has expanded to include partnering with local churches to assist patients after they are discharged from the hospital providing meals, running errands, supporting through prayer and sometimes providing a place to stay while recuperating.
As I reflect back over this past year, it has been a very effective program for those receiving spiritual care – our patients, their families, for staff and physicians. But I had no idea how effective it would be for me, a spiritual care provider. It is about relationships, about connecting. It’s about loving on others, loving like Jesus unconditionally without judgment. I am not the same person I was one year ago. My life has changed dramatically; my heart has transformed. I am providing spiritual care to community members that I have not seen eye-to-eye with over the years guarding myself. I am providing spiritual care to 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, talking about salvation. Our hearts have aligned through the power of the Holy Spirit something that is not humanly possible.
This program has changed my life through a cleansing of my heart. It has provided a gift to me; a healing of my own heart… Spiritual Care.
(article first published Story Harvest)