And whilst we wear the obligatory uniform, we didn't sign up as soldiers, did we? The Midwifery Army. And yet, going into the unit over the past year feels increasingly like serving in an ever-decreasing army. Our numbers are decimated. Casualties, stress, isolation, ill health, those looking for another route out. Escape while you can.
And all the time, as any good soldier will know, we remain ever prepared, on the ball and in active service, smiles and zeal on our faces, with alarm bells and call bells our backdrop of sirens amidst the distant, shocked and vulnerable cries of new life and tears of joy.
This comparison might sound extreme, but I find myself on this battleground.
And on this battleground, I find myself crying out, 'Lord, I've nothing left to give'.
The vocabulary in the Bible makes no mistake as we are told to 'put on the full armour of God', to 'remain steadfast under trial', to 'fight the good fight of the faith' and to 'run with perseverance the race marked out for us'.
Jesus does not whitewash over the less palatable truths of our earthly existence. Rather, he says to us 'in this world you will have trouble'.
Maybe this difficult time on our wards isn't really unexpected. Maybe it's part of our fallen and broken world, in which disease and pandemics can take hold and turn our comfortable worlds upside down. And maybe the burning question right now is simply this: how do we, in faith, keep marching on?
We must never beat ourselves up for our implicitly human emotions of feeling spent, exhausted, incapable. But we do have someone to turn to. A Father who does not ask us to prove ourselves by what we do. A Saviour whose grace has saved us. A Lord, who provides us with armour.
In the place of burnout and weariness, God may be leading you beside quiet waters. Time out to refresh your soul. Take it!
On a day off, he may be inviting you to cease your chores and to sit at his feet. Be enveloped in his love!
As you park your car, he wants you to ask him for help and protection. Cry out to him!
As panic rises, standing at the full handover board, he whispers, 'do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you'. Receive him!
If you've absolutely nothing left, hear this: 'I am with you always.'
He is ministering to us in every circumstance, never leaving us, urging us on with his resounding, glorious cry, 'But take heart, I have overcome the world!'
Onward Christian soldiers!
Victoria Hutchinson is a Continuity of Care Team midwife in the Midlands