By Jeanette Bryson, PhD
In a hospital setting, when a patient is losing the ability to breathe, a code blue is announced. Immediately, doctors, nurses, and technicians from various departments in the hospital rush to the patient’s side. The chaplain arrives and stands quietly with the family members as the patient gasps for air and the attendants administer CPR and whatever intervention is needed to resuscitate the hear t. The patient’s one and only desire is to breathe, to live. While the patient is undergoing the attempts to give back the life that is slipping away, the person’s entire system must resume breathing or they are gone.
While training to be a chaplain for the first time (October 2018 to April 2019), there was so much to learn—when to listen, when to pray, when to take the family aside, and when to concentrate on the patient. The passing of loved ones and the grieving of those present, even the feeling of loss among the hospital staff, has stayed with me.
One didactic on death and dying changed my perspective, not only on how to assist patients and their families, but on how to live my own life. The simulation involved the seven interns in our group. We were each given nine pieces of paper. We wrote one item on each slip of paper, which allowed each of us to write three names, three dreams, and three material items. We were then taken through a 45-minute process that resulted in a diagnosis that eventually led us to the point of code. As we drew near our simulated death, each report from the medical team meant we needed to lose one of the nine: either a material item, a dream, or a person. For six of us, the final paper had a name listed. As we focused out everything except staying alive, we were then asked to think of how our own obituary would read.
Even though it was only a simulation, focusing out material things, people, and dreams, allowed us to think about our interior selves and being content just to breathe and stay alive.
Focusing All Out
Jesus left heaven and all that it held for Him. The story of Jesus’ walk on earth can be found in the Scriptures—the story of love, pain, sorrow, grace, and joy. Jesus accepted the Lord’s plan for His life, and He was content. While on earth, He focused on His mission to save others. He was satisfied (content) that He had done what was needed, and, ultimately, He died on the cross for us.
So our lives are filled with these same components of love, pain, sorrow, grace, and joy. If we but come to Jesus, He will be with us. When we focus out our desires and seek Him, we can experience contentment and ultimately a wholeness. This results in a oneness that provides an acceptance of our missionto represent Him and appreciate the life and gifts given us. At that point our quality of life improves.
One of the most dramatic stories in the Bible about how focusing everything out and seeking only to learn of Jesus improves the quality of life is found in Luke 13:10-22. The story is told of a woman with a hunchback. A type of malady called kyphosis, also known as roundback, or hunchback, is a condition in which the spine in the upper back has an excessive curvature. The upper back, or thoracic region of the spine, is supposed to have a slight natural curve.
The dowager woman came to hear Jesus. The records do not say she came to be healed. No doubt she had had years of suffering, wonderingwhy she had to have this condition, enduring taunts, the inability to look up , and constantly being an outsider. By the time she came to see Jesus, she was content to simpl y join those crowded together to see Him, although she could onl y look at the ground and listen. It seems that Jesus sensed her presence. He saw her. He called her a daughter of Abraham. He said, “Woman, you are loosed from y our infirmity” (Luke 13:12).1 Translated, that means, “Son/daughter, you are free.”
A Step Into Wholeness
We are invited to come to God—content with who we are, where we are, and with whatever He has given—and He will reveal Himself. We will be able to focus everything out except the need to hear Jesus, like the woman with the hunchback and the patient who seeks only air.
We can thus experience a change for the better in the quality of our lives.
The World Health Organization defines quality of life as an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns. It is a broad-ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person’s physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships, and their relationship to salient features o their environment.2
Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak talks about how focusing on ourselves results in “insecurity about identity and worth” and limits our quality of life.3 Focusing on Jesus gives us the insight to see that we have not only what we need for an abundant physical, psychological, personal, and social life, but more than enough to share.
Quality of life improves when we acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and focus on Jesus. We may have to adjust our thinking in order for our quality of living to grow to its greatest potential. We may want to be like Jesus in the story of the good Samaritan, but we may serve best when we focus on those people God brings into our sphere of influence, the situation the innkeeper experienced (Luke 10:30-36).
God does not change our circumstances; instead, He goes through them with us. He didn’t put out the f ire for the three Hebrew youth or remove the lions from the den when Daniel was dropped into it, but He was there with them.
Jesus walked the earth and allowed what we would call interruption after interruption; and then the last forty days leading to the cross He went alone so we would not have to walk alone . If we but come to Him, He will be with us. He sees us just as He saw the woman with thehunchback.
If you experience a code blue and need a wholistic acceptance of who you are to God, then pray:
Dear Lord, we come humbly to seek You, we need to hear You, we want to feel Your presence, and most importantly, we need to accept Your gift of Jesus. Please help our unbelief, help us to accept Your promise to never leave us or forsake us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
May we then experience the innkeeper’s heart of serving others in Jesus’ name and experience the wise and unselfish use of our lives, bodies, talents, time, and treasures.4 If we do that, then the quality of our lives will continue to experience exponential quality growth!
1 All biblical texts are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
2 Retrieved 05/12/19 from https://www.who.int/healthinfo/survey/whoqolqualityoflife/
3 P. J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco,
Calif.: Jossey-Bass, 2000), pp 85, 86.
4 E. O. Abbey, Return Unto Me: Wholistic Stewardship Training Manual (Tamale,
Ghana: North Ghana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, 2003), p. 16.