He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29
I was very, very tired. It had been an exceptionally busy night in that particular paediatrics job. A tiny baby, with congenital heart disease, had lapsed into heart failure, and the whole night was spent trying every reasonable medical manoeuvre to save her life. In medical terms we failed! On reaching the haven of my bedroom at about 5.30am, the intrusive 'phone rang once more. Would I return to the ward immediately as a boy of three years or so had been admitted with suspected meningitis? There was no option!
I battled with heavy eyelids while I explained to anxious parents that I needed to do a lumbar puncture on their son. Awake enough to pray for the Lord's strength to see this delicate procedure through, I continued into the demands of another full and hectic day.
Many house officers have had busier episodes than this, stretching over two or three consecutive nights. We all know, the busy and the not-so-busy, that fatigue can be the enemy of good medical and surgical practice. It is irresponsible to court tiredness unnecessarily but I believe, as I found throughout the experience I have described, that the Lord does 'give power to the faint' when we are faced, in the midst of our fatigue, with the pressing need of others.
Lord, you know about fatigue. You spent whole nights in prayer.
You had nowhere to lay your head.
You sat at the well in your tiredness to ask for a drink.
You slept soundly in the boat during the storm.
Help me to take what rest I should,
but also increase my strength when patients need my help
and my body cries out for sleep.
Further reading: Rom 8:31-39. Is 40:27-31.