There was a sense of relief at shift handover on the ward.
By the time it came around, it felt like a good idea for someone fresh to take over the caring of my patients. There was a capable person now assuming responsibility so there’d be no expectation for me to hang around and try and take the job back on. To take back a job that was no longer mine would be a bit weird.
It got me thinking about a two week period, late last year, when I witnessed a handover. I was reminded all over again how handovers work.
The Mercy Ship is a floating hospital which delivers surgical care to those in great need. I was on board around Christmas time, while it was docked in Madagascar. Each morning, once we’d been briefed as a surgical team, the nurse would set out with an interpreter to collect the next patient from the ward. A whole variety of countries were represented in our group of volunteer staff, so the locally employed interpreters were heavily relied upon to liaise with our patients and achieve our workload.
We’d complete the mandatory pre-operative checks with the patient: allergies, consent, fasting status, answering any last minute questions. Once we were done, we’d offer to pray with them.
For most of these patients, impending surgery was a fear of the unknown: experiencing a general anaesthetic for the first time, the exposure to risks, what life would look and feel like post surgery and learning to put trust in doctors that they’d never met. They’d choose a language they preferred: Malagasy, French or English.
So we’d pray. 100% took up the offer; a little more than what I was expecting! We’d pray for wisdom for the staff involved in their operation, an uncomplicated recovery period, a good overall outcome. Mainly, we’d ask for peace to govern their whole being.
The shift in body language that followed was profound.
Immediately following ‘amen’ (or ‘amena’), the patient was reconfigured. Shoulders dropped as tension was released, pacing eyes were focused, and a relieved smile appeared across their face.
At that moment, as they put their complete trust in a God that had heard their prayer on that ship, their body testified to it. Sweet, sweet relief encapsulated their being. They’d handed over.
It was a Bible verse I’d skimmed hastily so many times, which I seeing fulfilled:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus, the One to whom they’d handed over, had their trust. His promised peace flooded their entire being.
How many times do I take back control after I’ve prayed and, in doing so, continue in my doubt and run back to anxiety?
The transaction Jesus proposes for all is safe; He only requires our dependency and trust. If I’m already experiencing the sweet relief of handing over to another nurse, how much greater should my confidence be in handing over my cares to God, who hears my every prayer? To the One who fulfils His promise of peace that transcends all understanding?
“God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”