Called to Serve
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! – Psalm 147:3-5 (NLT)
It’s been nearly two centuries since Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, to affluent British parents. Despite their fondness for socializing in elite social circles, she set out to live a life of philanthropy. As a girl, she cared for the ill and poor people in the village next to her family’s estate. Years later, she helped those living in England’s slums.
Nightingale’s renown stemmed from her nursing work. An expert organizer, a year after taking a job in London, she earned a promotion to superintendent. A few years later, the British secretary of war asked her to organize nurses to tend to soldiers during the Crimean War. After arriving at the British base hospital, she turned a contaminated, bug-and-rodent infested disgrace into a sanitary facility that helped reduce the death toll by two-thirds. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform. Everyone from kings and queens to the president of the United States sought her advice.
Had her parents been able to dictate her career choice, none of this would have happened. They opposed her nursing choice, preferring that she marry and bear children. Florence couldn’t, though. In her teens, she felt Me calling her to a life of service, even though she didn’t know exactly what that meant. This has happened to people throughout history, even though historians sometimes overlook this divine element. Yet I am there, inspiring caregivers to act as My arms, hands, eyes and ears.
Catalyst for Spiritual Growth
- This passage includes the observation that people are like clay jars holding a great treasure. What do you think that treasure is? How do heroic figures like Florence Nightingale reassure you that I am in the world, caring for people?