«Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy» (Proverbs 31: 19, 20, NLT).
WHEN WE READ Proverbs 31, we discover two aspects of the ideal Christian woman that are perfectly reflected in the character of the person we will be talking about today: 1) she is industrious and 2) she lends a hand to whoever needs it whenever she can. These two qualities could be seen dearly in the life of Florence Nightingale. Florence (1820—1910) pioneered the professionalization of what we now know as the field of nursing. It seems impossible to imagine a time when there were no professional nurses as we know them today, but there was such a time and it was not until Florence’s arrival that this profession, so useful and necessary for humanity, was developed.
The most interesting thing is that no one would have imagined that Florence would be a pioneer in this area, because as a member of a wealthy family, she was not expected to work, but to dedicate herself to marrying and having children. However, inspired by what she described as «a call from God,» she decided in 1837 to develop herself academically in order to work in the field of health. Breaking all the social conventions of the time, she set off toward her destiny. I thank God for the courage of this woman who opened the way for other women who came after her.
Although two men fell in love with her and proposed to her, Florence decided to go ahead with her plans, and in 1850 she moved to Germany to receive four months of medical training. There she came into contact with Pastor Theodor Fliedner, who worked with dedication in favor of not only sick people, but also the marginalized. This had a tremendous impact on Florence. Because her father provided her with a yearly income, she was able to continue training until the Crimean War erupted.
The news coming from the frontlines regarding the conditions of the wounded caused Florence to move out to the conflict zone with a group of thirty-eight women, after having trained them personally. Florence revolutionized everything, improving the conditions of the wounded so much that it was publicly accepted that her efforts reduced the mortality rate from forty-two percent to two percent.
Work is not only what one knows but what one is. And God wants women to be productive, agents of change, and a source of love and blessing.