Protection and Prayer

Editor’s note: Longtime Westside member Leah Henderson works as a labor and delivery nurse at Piedmont Hospital, where she has helped to deliver many of our church’s children. She and her husband Kelly live in Berkeley Park.

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“How are you doing?” That’s a text I’ve received many times a day since the Covid-19 pandemic started making its way through our state. My answers vary hour to hour, day to day:

I’m exhausted.
I’m frustrated that some people aren’t taking this seriously enough.
I love this slower pace of life that I’ve been craving for so long.
I’m scared I’ll be an asymptomatic carrier and transmit the virus.
I’m thankful I have a job.
I’m adjusting to being the only one in our house that’s working.
I’m so tired.

No matter what each day at the hospital brings, or what my feelings might be, I am so thankful that I know Jesus! I am thankful for salvation. I am thankful that God is humbling me and leading me to trust him more than I trust myself, my employer, or hospital safety protocols.

Each morning as I go into the hospital I recite Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” I often recite this throughout the day when I am washing my hands. I need an almost constant reminder that God is both sitting on his heavenly throne and present with me.

When I became a nurse, I never imagined there would come a time when going to work would risk my own health and the health of my family. Just weeks ago my beloved job provided a settled routine of delivering babies and caring for people on their most vulnerable day. Almost overnight, it has become a place that I no longer recognize, a place of uncertainty.

We run drills for how to separate a newborn baby from a Covid-positive mother immediately after delivery. We designate a person to get the special PPE (personal protective equipment) backpack for emergency C-sections. We do our best to support the nurse who has a patient in isolation, so she knows she is not alone when she is gowned up in the patient’s room. We try to keep our masks clean so they last two weeks, and we don’t use too many. We try not to sit too close to our coworkers when we eat, which is the only time we take our masks off during a shift.

I wonder if there will be joking and pranking in the nurses’ station again one day, and what coronavirus will do to a place I cherish. When I start to lose heart, I remind myself of what Walter said during our first virtual church service, “God’s palms are not sweating. His playbook is not missing a page. His arm is not shortened by our problems.” God has infinite resources at his command, and he is inviting me to trust him.

During these days I continue to receive the sweetest texts and calls, like, “How are you doing?” and “We prayed for you by name tonight.” For those of us in healthcare, these words are balm to our weary spirits. They bring tears to my eyes. Now more than ever I am confident that our church is not the beautiful building down the street. Our church is the community of people supporting each other when we can’t even touch.

To those of you who continue to ask what you can do to help, please continue to pray that we can provide appropriate, safe care for every person who needs it. Also, please stay home! Healthcare workers don’t have a choice to stay home right now, but the majority of people do. It’s a privilege to be able to shelter in place safely. We do not shelter in place because we fear getting sick; we shelter in place as an act of sacrificial love for our neighbors, our city, our hospital systems, and humanity. My prayer for all of us is that through this experience, our neighbors will see that God’s perfect love cast out fear.

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