The Hospital Furnace – Dr Emily Ivarsson SRMO

CMDFA NSW Conference on Moral Injury


from Luke’s Journal 2021 | Fire in the Belly 2021 | Vol.26 No.1

The hospital environment offers immense opportunity to be a part of the work that Jesus is doing in the world. We are in the privileged position of walking alongside people in their most vulnerable moments, with the opportunity of showing them care and compassion with the love of Christ. At the same time, the hospital environment can be a gruelling space for our faith. There are constant stresses and temptations that seek to pull us away from trusting in the true God and turn to all kinds of idols

In my talk, I will cover some of the challenges that I have experienced and have witnessed other Christian doctors-in-training struggle with. I will talk about how our working environment can lead us to lose sight of God and as a result lose sight of who we are. When we have lost sight of these things, we end up losing touch with reality. I want to show how Jesus speaks directly into this in His Sermon on the Mount – He knew that this would be our struggle.

Finally, I hope to offer some solutions and encouragements as to how we can survive and even thrive in this furnace.

Losing sight of God

  1. An environment that does not acknowledge the existence or sovereignty of God 
  2. A career that does not allow much else

Losing sight of yourself

  1. Defined by work
  2. Purposed by work

Losing sight of all reality

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness? No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 

Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’’ For the gentiles seek after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:19-34

Surviving the furnace 

  1. Take the time that you need to see God 
  2. Have good accountability
  3. Always be ready to quit. 

A video of this talk is available to members of CMDFA. If you are not a member and would like more information please call the CMDFA Office on 02 9680 1233.


Dr Emily Ivarsson SRMO    
Dr Emily Ivarsson SRMO is married to Aron. They live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and attend Vine Church in Surry Hills. Emily works at The Royal Hospital for Women and is about to start specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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