Duties of the nursing profession are inseparable from faith. In fact, according to Christian worldview, nursing professionals should base their roles on faith and care. While non-Christians view nurses as people charged with the responsibility to care and love the suffering, patients in this case, Christians perceive nurses as God’s delegation to humanity.
To non-Christians, the moral and social principles should guide the nursing professionals whereas to Christians the feeling of love should motivate the nurses. Despite these differences, it is unanimous that nurses play a very important role in human life. Through caring for the ill in the society, nurses uphold human health.
Since health extends beyond the physical realm, it implies that nurses, according to Christians, also provide spiritual care to the humanity. Through care, nurses become part of God’s mystery of suffering. Suffering is a subject, which theologians have strived to comprehend since the times of Moses but in vain. Nurses also care for the dying and the dead, with hopes of positive response from God. Death is another component of human thriving which scholars have been unable to unveil its truth.
Is nursing really like any other profession within the society? I believe it is not. In fact, nursing is a component of faith. My personal philosophy in this paper is that ‘nursing is a God’s revelation to humanity’. Based on my personal research and life experience, I will demonstrate how nursing fulfills God’s revelation to humanity through Christian worldview on nature of personhood, health and illness, suffering, death and caring.
Nature of personhood
Fear of death and illness characterizes human nature. Although Christians view death as God’s plan to human life, personal experience reveals that people fear death. In fact, many view it as the interruption to their lives. Human beings by nature believe that they are liable for care and protection from nurses.
They believe that nurses should protect them from all the sufferings in their lives. As a result, most patients solely depend on nurses for the survival. Patient’s fear of death brings worry and uncertainties to their lives. In this aspect, God’s revelation is two-fold.
First, although nurses are human beings characterized by the nature of personhood described above, they strive to end fear within their patients. The bible teaches that “people should not fear anything but God” (Attridge, 2006, p. 123). Nurses manifest this teaching to the patients by giving them hope even at times of death. According to Christian’s worldview, nurses should provide love, hope and care to the patients even at their last breaths.
God’s mission since the time of Moses to the advent of salvation through Jesus Christ has been to provide care, love and hope to humanity. Through Moses, the Israelites felt God’s love and care. Through Jesus Christ, God manifested His unconditional love through salvation for all. Therefore, nursing professionals manifests God’s love, care and hope to humanity, as it was the case for Moses, Jesus and the prophets.
Secondly, by working selflessly to end fear and bring hope to the patients, nurses reveal the will of God to the humanity. As the bible teaches in 1Peter 3:14, God does not want fear among His people. In order to ensure the fear does not prevail in human nature, nurses provide care based on love and faith to the patients (Shelly and Miller, 1999, p.139).
In this case, nurses act as direct God’s delegation for the teaching of eternity and life after death. In biblical context, people should not fear; be it illness or death since there is eternal joy after this life. This ensures that patients are no longer worried for their lives after death. Such hope would not be possible without the nurses. They indeed represent what God wants from humanity in order to achieve eternity. Therefore, nursing is a revelation for God’s will to humanity.
Health and illness
In my research, I justified health as the spiritual well-being of a community and illness as the visible outcome of poor spirituality. As per the worldview, health is the physical, social, moral and spiritual well-being of an individual whereas illness is the state caused by the imbalance of these factors. In Biblical context, disharmony between God and the humankind is what results into illness.
According to Christian worldview, human infringement of God’s will culminates into physical, moral and social instability of an individual or illness. Based on personal experience, I concluded that the scholarly and professional definitions of health and illness are just symptoms of the spirituality. Whichever view, nursing plays an important role in health of the society. Through this way, nursing manifests God in several ways including healing, love and caring.
Nursing reveals God as the healer of humanity. As Jeremiah (30:17) notes, God “will restore you to health and heal your wounds” (New International Version). In this passage, Jeremiah describes God as the healer- the healer of wounds. Wounds in this context refer to the weakness of the human spirituality. As per the worldview, however, wounds represent the physical illness of an individual or a society.
Regardless of the view, it is unanimous that wounds destabilize human health and as Jeremiah states, God restores this health. How does God today restore the health yet He is unseen? Throughout the Christian history, God fulfilled His roles through common people. For instance, to save the Israelites from slavery God used Moses, an Egyptian slave.
Therefore, Taber is justifies when he says, “God uses people through their professions to accomplish His mission on earth” (1998, p. 35). Nursing is a means to healing and through the professionals; God accomplishes His mission of healing. Through this way therefore, nurses manifests God’s power of healing.
Nurses manifest God’s universal love to humanity. According to Christianity, nurses should provide love to the ill. Love is a spiritual component that guides the humanity in comprehension for the need of ill free life. It is justifiable that love motivates nurses (Colson & Pearcy, 1999, p.89). Where do the nurses get this love? Biblically, God is love. The salvation history in which He offered His son, Jesus Christ, for sacrifice, illustrates the loving nature of God.
Because nurses care for the ill regardless of their religious background, it is evident that they get this love from God and manifest it to the world. According to John (1:16), “For so God loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” so that He might heal the humanity (NIV). Nurses today assume the central role-played by Jesus Christ millions of decades ago, thereby illustrating God’s love to the world. In hospitals, nursing professionals ensure decency in the lives of the sick people. They indeed illustrate God’s universal love.
Throughout the human history, scholars have sought to understand the mysteries behind suffering. They have never understood why innocent people within the society suffer. In the biblical story of Job, I established that suffering is one of the mysteries of God beyond human comprehension. The argument further established that, it is an inevitable fact in the human thriving. As per the Christian worldview, suffering is a God’s means to reveal His mighty and power to His loved ones.
The Christians also believes that from suffering human beings should derive benefits for their survival in this life. In their perspective, nurses believe that people should not suffer and they should do as much as possible in their profession to help the suffering. By doing so, nurses reveal God in a number of ways two of which I shall outline in the subsequent paragraphs.
By helping the suffering, nurses reveal the mighty of God to the world. In the infamous Haiti calamity whereby several people succumbed to death and left thousands suffering, nurses from all over the world volunteered to help the victims of this disaster. Christians perceive nurses as people whom God charged with powers to rescue people from suffering. On their part, nurses believe that their role is to serve and save the suffering. Biblical history evidences that God empowered all His delegators.
For instance, God gave Moses power to overcome the pharaoh of Egypt in order to save the people of Israelites. David, the king, is another example whom God gave power to overcome Goliath so that he protected His people. Jesus performed miracles, which nobody else had performed; he raised Lazarus from death; he healed the blind and fed more than five thousand people from five loaves and two fish. All these biblical examples reveal that God delegated powers to those who undertook His work.
Since Christianity teaches that God does not change, it is justifiable that nurses possess the power of God to save and serve the suffering (Lundmark, 2007, p.770). Nursing therefore, evidences God’s power over suffering and hence humanity. I impute this power to the voluntary roles nurses played in Haiti and the recent Japanese earthquake.
Nurses’ contribution in helping the suffering illustrates that God’s mysteries can be unveiled by a few. From Christians worldview perspective, “nursing has unveiled God’s mysteries to a greater extend” (Sire, 2009, p.12). Being the one of the few professions, which takes a direct part in the salvation of the humanity, the Christians perceive it as among the selected few to take part in God’s mysteries, which scholars have not been able to unveil.
In fact, nurses are part of this mystery, the suffering. Biblical Job’s story presents a mystery to the today’s theologians. Job was good and perfect in the “eyes of God” (Job 1:5, NIV). Why then did he suffer? God causes suffering to humanity in order to express His power and further reveal to the world those whom He has appointed to take part in these mysteries. Therefore, nursing is a means for God to show His mysteries and power to the humanity.
Death is the culmination of human activities in this world; it marks the end for one’s reign on earth. To Christians, death is the separation of soul and the body, which God executes.
To non-Christians, death is a curse, which interferes with the natural order of human life. Nurses’ response to death is that, while death is inevitable, people should not fear it. It is in the nursing profession that people should not suffer at their deathbeds. As Colson and Pearcy put it, “Death, to nurses, represents the extreme outcome of illness and suffering” (1999, p.46).
In fact, nurses do what they can to save the dying patient, either from suffering or from dying. Patients’ response on death is varied. It is agreeable that everybody fears death. Fear is therefore the immediate response among the patients. Christians attribute the fear to uncertainty about the destination after death. With their role to protect people from death or reduce suffering during death, nurses reveal God as the savior of human soul.
Nursing reveals God as the ultimate savior of life. Biblically, death is the Christian’s transition to glorified form of existence. Christians therefore believe that death leads to glorification of the faithful ones. However, the bible contradicts that God does not want His people to die. It is for this fact that nurses strive as much as they can to save the dying.
Nurses do not want people to die, like God himself. The bible further clarifies that people should not die in sin. Since nursing professionals are human beings like any other, it is difficult to control the sins for the dying as such they instead control the suffering. They do as much as possible to ensure the dying does not suffer. As God’s salvation to humanity aimed at bringing the end to suffering, the nurses’ attempts therefore reveals God’s salvation to His people.
Prayer forms an important part for Christian nursing caring, especially where the nurses’ beliefs do not contradict those of the patient. Physical care does not vary greatly with religions as it is in the case for spiritual care. Through prayer, God cares for the needs of His people.
Psalms 32:6 notes that, “Let everyone who is faithful pray to you at a time they can find you” (NIV). This text shows that through prayer God provides for spiritual care to the humanity. Nurses should care for all the patients and the poor in the society regardless of their religious background. Through this way, nurses reveal God’s plan of redemption to humanity.
Nursing professionals reveal God’s universal plan to redeem the world. As Shelley and Miller (1999) notes, “Nurses provide only a small, though significant, part of the whole spectrum of spiritual care” (p.241), it is therefore vivid that nurses help the patients to acquire peace in their souls.
Nurses provide care to all the people regardless of their financial status in the society. In some instances, the world perceives nurses as the miracle performers of today from whom people should seek assistance. Nurses also provide solutions, and comfort, to those in pain and suffering in the society. Through this way, nurses manifest God’s plan of redemption to all the people.
Based on Christians nursing view on suffering, caring, death, health and illness, ‘nursing is God’s revelation to humanity’. Through their nursing profession, nurses reveal God’s will, nature, plan and relationship with man. Nursing is indeed inseparable from faith. Society’s moral and social principles and the feeling of love and care should motivate and guide the duties of the nursing professionals.
Through this way, nursing forms an integral part in God’s accomplishments to the world. Guided by these principles and feelings, nurses do not only reveal God to the societies but also become part of God’s mission in the world. Hence, nursing is not like any other profession, it is indeed a component of faith.
Attridge, H. W. (2006). The Harper Collins Study Bible. New York: Harper Collins.
Colson, C., & Pearcy, N. (1999). How now shall we live? Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Lundmark, M. (2007). Vocation in theology-based nursing theories. Nurs Ethics, 14(6), 767-780.
Shelley, J. A., & Miller, A. B. (1999). Called to care. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Sire, J.W. (2009). The universe next door (5th Ed.). Illinois: IVP Academic.
Taber, C.W. (1998). Taber’s Cyclopedia Medical Dictionary edition 18, Philadelphia