I was inspired to write this prayer/poem after a particularly busy day in the Emergency Department where I work. I was assigned to the “Assessment/Waiting Room Management area” which is most of those walking in, although many ambulance patients also end up here when there are no beds left in the acute care area, as was the case this past Sunday. We had a great volume of patients, many of whom were complaining to me about the long wait times, apparently oblivious to the overwhelming numbers of ill people coming into the ER, and unaware that we had 5 nurses call out for this particular shift. Midway through this shift, the other nurse I was working with, had to leave and I was left alone to care for most of the walk-in’s and those reporting “chest pain” requiring timely intervention. A Physician’s Assistant came in to help the doctor I was working with in this area, but that only doubled my workload as now twice as many patients were being seen in half the time, meaning twice as many patients required blood tests, throat cultures, medications, assessments, treatment, care and discharge instructions.
During the last hour of my shift, having not had a lunch break due to the volume of incoming, and painful feet having run around all of those hours, I found I had exhausted all of my reserves and was “running on empty”. I responded to patient’s complaints in less than a Christ-like manner, and I felt the grief of that ever since. I wondered aloud, “ Lord Jesus, How did you handle all of the throngs of people making demands upon you? I took the time to pray before going in to work, but what about when I’m in the midst of chaos, demands and complaining? God bless the few who were patient, but the many that were not, were shooting arrows at my reserve tank, and I was draining quickly!”
I do believe that the Lord gives us more than we can handle, contrary to that popular saying insisting otherwise. I believe He does so in order to bring us to the end of ourselves and to yield ourselves in greater measure to Him. I’ve often prayed that the Lord not give us more than we can safely handle in the ER, but these past few weeks demonstrated that sometimes the Lord is allowing more than what we can handle, so that we give Him more of ourselves. So this is the background and genesis of this prayer:
When I come to the end of myself
Let it be Jesus alone that they see
Not the struggling, desperate gasps
and outbursts of a drowning me.
While the fiery darts of the devil
Be launched in my weakest hour
Let Christ assert His presence, His
patience and His power.
I can do nothing in my own strength, my failures
Convince me that this is true
When I come to the end of myself,
Let me draw all of my strength from You.