The Gospel Coalition

Being a Nurse in a Broken World

Anna Haynes is a neonatal intensive care nurse. She graduated from Liberty University and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Mike, and their two children. She and her husband belong to Christian Fellowship Church in Ashburn, Virginia.

What do you do every day?

As a neonatal intensive care nurse, I work with premature infants, infants with problems after birth, and their families. A normal work day (or night) involves anything from teaching a mom how to breastfeed and helping a dad hold and care for his baby for the first time, to attending deliveries not going according to plan and resuscitating infants.

As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?

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I work with people as they go through difficult, vulnerable times: parents who feel out of control when something goes wrong with their pregnancy or delivery, parents who don’t feel ready to care for their babies, babies too weak to go home, and babies whose family situation isn’t stable enough to send them home. The Bible says God is our Helper, the One who sustains us. And as he helps and sustains us—his vulnerable people—he calls us to do the same for others. As a nurse, I have the privilege of doing that for a living.

How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?

The deaths, the congenital anomalies, the weak and hurting babies, the single parents, the teen moms, the troubled families—all these things give me a window into the world’s brokenness. And that’s just one aspect of my job. Another aspect is working alongside others as we grapple with those painful cases and mourn together. I often hear coworkers doubt the existence—or the goodness—of God in light of the harsh realities we face that make life seem hopeless and meaningless. Our jobs as nurses exist because the world is a broken place.

Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?

My work gives me a unique opportunity to love and serve others by coming alongside them when they need help and encouragement. Beyond providing medical care, loving and serving my patients often looks a lot like being a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Sometimes patients can be difficult to work with due to the stress they’re under, and it can be challenging to love and serve them. So being a nurse teaches me to be compassionate with my neighbor; it forces me to stand with them right in the midst of their pain and uncertainty and help them see light and hope.

Editors’ note: Be sure to pick up a copy of Dr. Robert Cutillo’s excellent new book, Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age (Crossway, 2016) [interview | foreword]. TGCvocations is a weekly column that asks practitioners how they integrate their faith and their work. Interviews are condensed and edited.

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