Giving Help to the Weary
by Mark Mueller
It doesn’t happen very frequently but when it does you simply look up to God and ask, “Why don’t you do that more often?”
I was walking down the halls at Children’s Hospital only a few weeks after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and becoming a nurse. I had been on several interviews, and the one I was currently on was for a job on the pediatric oncology unit. I had been praying and talking to my wife about what department I would like to work in since there were openings in several different units.
As I was taking a tour of the oncology unit, a patient’s door opened and a mom of one of the patients that I knew well from our church came out, looked at me, and asked, “What are you doing here?” I knew her daughter had cancer but had not expected to see anyone I knew that day. After I explained why I was there she looked me in the eye and said, “This is where you should work, this will become your ministry, and will be a perfect fit for you.” After that encounter I never looked back. Over the years I have had many roles within the pediatric oncology unit. I currently am a Nurse Care Manager and provide care for patients with cancer who need a bone marrow transplant.
Working in a hospital is a strange thing on a normal day but lately it has gone to a new level. One of the things that makes it an interesting place to work is that there are many people here for so many different reasons all at the same time. When people ask me if a children’s hospital is a hard place to work I normally tell them the bad days are pretty bad—but the good days are really, really good.
Faces Don’t Lie
I recently shared with the worship team at Christ’s Church that due to the hospital’s current restrictions I have been encouraged to work from home when possible. When I am physically at the hospital, I am supposed to stay at my desk and communicate with my patients by phone or email with the goal being to avoid all contact with others. I understand why this current directive protects our patients and me at the same time, but it really goes against why most people go into the healthcare field.
The other challenge for me with these restrictions is that I do not sit well. On any given day I plan desk interruptions, tasks that allow me to move. Sometimes I go see a patient on the inpatient unit or check on a patient in the clinic, or run something to pathology. One of my favorite parts of these excursions is seeing the faces of people in the hall.
From the look on their faces you can tell a lot about the people you see. Some express a sense of routine as if they have been coming here often for a long time; other faces show disappointment or even fear. The face I usually looked for is the one that expresses confusion or a sense of uncertainty. I am sure you have seen it. It is the look that says, “I think I am in the right place, but can’t find what I am looking for.”
People who have this look usually know they are in the right place, but they are hopeful that someone can help them or give them an answer they need. These are the people I miss the most. One of my favorite things to do has been to walk up to them, interrupt their thoughts, and ask, “Can I help you find what you are looking for?”
The interesting thing with the current crisis is that I now see those expressions everywhere I go. I see them on people in the grocery store, on the faces of my kids and grandkids, and sometimes in the mirror. The questions are there for all to see:
What has happened?
How will I get through this?
When will it end?
Why do I feel lost?
I know those feelings. They seem to hit me especially hard when I wonder how soon I will get to see my grandson and his parents who live in Florida.
Seeing with Jesus’ Eyes
Recently I was talking with one of my young adult patients about the current crisis and she said to me, “Welcome to my world.” For years I have been teaching patients and families how to socially distance themselves and avoid high risk for an infection situation. Some of the risky situations are environmental but most of the risk is being around people whom you don’t know if they are sick or not. That struggle of uncertainty and social isolation is something I now share with my patients.
But I notice a different kind of expression on the faces of the first responders and healthcare workers. It is one of resolve and determination. Why the difference? One reason I believe is that they are already in the business of helping those who are in need of finding the right path. In the book of Isaiah we read, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21, ESV). God is in the business of helping those who are feeling lost and weary. Jesus Christ said, “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
I truly believe that following Jesus changes how you view this current crisis and how you response to those around you. Sharing others’ burdens and offering assistance to those who are weary will not only provide for their needs; it will also change your perspective.
Mark Mueller is a pediatric oncology nurse, father of three grown children, grandpa to four grandkids, and has served as elder at Christ’s Church, Mason, for many years.