We call it the "bat phone." However, its piercing ring doesn't bring a superhero. Instead, the bat phone's siren means somebody is critically ill, and will be arriving via helicopter in less than five minutes. We all spring into action in anticipation of their arrival-- two doctors and three critical-care trained nurses. As we wait on the helipad for the patient to arrive, we all ready ourselves for action-- never really sure what we will be confronted with.
As a clinical nurse specialist in Victoria's busiest trauma centre and trauma intensive care unit, I am faced with people's mortality every day. Speed, alcohol and fatigue really do kill. But sometimes it's just simple bad luck that brings people to us. Lots of blood, badly damaged body parts, heart attack and burn victims--all make their way to my place of work. It can be extremely upsetting at times.
However, the one issue that has caused me more distress than any of the physical injuries and suffering is the fact that so many of these people--whom God has created--have no faith. Families are understandably grief stricken. They cry over and over, "I may never see my loved one again."
The anguish is tangible, and their pain unmitigated as we work to keep their loved one alive. I remember Jesus' promise, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). But I have asked on so many occasions, "Would you like me to contact someone for you? A priest or minister?" So often the reply is "No, he/she didn't believe in God."
It makes my heart ache that these people have no hope should their loved one die. I am acutely aware of the many promises we have been given. But for a long time, I felt too uncomfortable about sharing these with nonbelievers. I just want to remind them that "the eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you" (Deuteronomy 33:27).
One day I decided to write some of God's promises down, and slip one or two into the waiting room. They are promises that have been a blessing to me my whole life. They are promises that kept me going when my younger brother almost died from a brain haemorrhage. Promises such as "My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever" (Psalm 73:26), that made me sure God's hand was over him.
The other thing I think of is how precious life really is. One minute we can be living normally; the next we may be on that helicopter after some tragedy.
Following the Bali bombing, I cared for five of the worst burnt and injured victims. I have never seen anything like it--people not only badly burned, but with massive shrapnel injuries. Not one of those people had a belief in God. Not one was comforted by God's countless promises of help and presence. In the age of terrorism in which we now live, it seems situations like this are becoming more frequent.
And so I ask myself: Did I wake up this morning and ask God to be with me? Did I ask Him to take my life in His hands to do as He desires? I don't know when my time will be up, but I need to make sure if that time comes today, my heart is right with my God.
I have decided to live every day to its fullest potential and familiarise and strengthen myself with the messages we have been blessed with from God. Sharing our own individual experience, hope and comfort in God is among the first and foremost ministries in which the discipled Christian will want to engage.
By the tragedies I witness around me, I am reminded of the importance of our experience with God and the need to have an experience, live the experience, and share the experience of God's love and comfort.
All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.
Julie Lawrence is a clinical nurse specialist, who lives in Orbost, Victoria.