A hospice chaplain walks daily with people nearing the end of life. For the most part, good people, terminally ill men and women, young and old, who in the pursuit of a cure have run out of medical options. The hospice chaplain enters the room with a divine assignment. Assist the patient and family in coming to terms with the terminal nature of the patient’s illness and prepare them for the inevitable.
A part of what we do is “documentation”, the dreaded paperwork. Medicare guidelines require the patient and family be assessed for both positive and negative issues that may affect their ability to cope and grieve normally. Based on the assessment goals must be established and a Plan of Care outlining the interventions to be utilized in meeting those goals documented. In subsequent visits, the chaplain will revisit the Plan of Care noting any changes, perceived progress and the effectiveness of the recommended interventions – which ones work, which ones don’t, making any necessary modifications.
Over the past seven years of service, my experience as both a Chaplain in the field and a Director of Chaplains has been this. Out of the overstuffed toolbox of interventions available to me, the most effective has been and continues to be Scripture – the Bible, God’s word.
Is it reliable? Is the Bible trustworthy? I will say only this. As I have sat at the bedside of the dying and knelt in prayer with the bereaved, scripture has brought peace and calm where all else fails. It has provided comfort for a newly widowed spouse, a grieving parent or sibling and a terrified child. Everything it has claimed to do it has done without fail. Like a flickering candle in the deepest night, God’s word has always been the one dependable light to pierce the darkness of despair.
For me, for them, the true test of the bible’s reliability, the one that matters most, is discovered on the anvil of life where need cries out for help. In what I do most every day, the Bible passes that test – every single time.
Believe me, those I walk with throughout the week aren’t concerned with the findings of academia; historicity and authenticity are words most won’t even associate with the Bible, and they have never even heard of things like Textual Criticism. But it is fair to ask the question. If you can find the time, may I suggest locating a hospice chaplain in your area and see if perhaps you might spend the day with him or her. Ask the people you get to visit with what and why they believe scripture to be reliable. You probably won’t hear anything scholarly, but you will get an answer. Are you ready to hear it?