If you’re anything like me, you may not have had much to do with hospitals. Maybe you went to the emergency department once when you broke your arm, or you’ve been to visit a new baby, or to see a grandparent who was ill. But if you’re young and healthy, you probably don’t know what it’s like to be so sick that you need the constant care of doctors and nurses. I began working as an Anglicare Chaplain at Liverpool Hospital about 6 weeks ago, and it has been an eye-opening experience for me. My job is to provide spiritual and emotional care and to patients, family, and staff. My day involves going and visiting patients on the different wards at the hospital. It’s daunting and exciting at the same time, because I never know who I am going to meet, or what kind of response I’m going to get. I introduce myself and ask people how they are going, I listen to their stories, and I look for opportunities to share the hope of Christ with them, wherever they are on their own spiritual journey.
Being an Anglicare Chaplain in a hospital is a really important role, because it acknowledges that we aren’t just flesh and blood, but that we are also spiritual. Spiritual wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing, maybe even more so! Because when the doctors are not able to offer someone any more physical care, the offer of spiritual care is all that is left.
As I speak with people, hope is a constant theme that comes up. Some people are full of hope because they are getting better and can go home. Other people feel hopeless as their illness gets worse, and they know they are going to die. To feel hopeless is a scary place for people to be, and it raises lots of questions about life and death. As Christians, we know that there is hope for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8 reminds us that we are “groaning” as “we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:23b-25). This is the hope that I, as an Anglicare Chaplain, have to offer to people who are “groaning” in their suffering in hospital.
Written by Bethany Downes
Anglicare Chaplain - Liverpool Hospital