Joyce Hollyday tells the story of a school teacher who was assigned to visit children in a large city hospital who received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. The teacher took the boy’s name and room number, and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in this class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.”
It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized that it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. The teacher felt that she couldn’t just turn around and walk out. And so she stammered awkwardly, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” This boy was in so much pain that he barely responded. The young teacher stumbled through his English lesson, ashamed at putting him through such a senseless exercise.
The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before the teacher could finish her outburst of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him. But ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back; he’s responding to treatment. It’s as if he has decided to live.”
The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw the teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears, the boy said: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a boy who was dying, would they?”
This wonderful story invites us to celebrate the gift of life even when all we seem to see around us is pain and disappointment and brokenness. It shows us that on the other side of pain, there is resurrection. It reminds us of what is possible whenever there is hope.
(Donald William Dotterer, Living The Easter Faith, CSS Publishing Company, 1994)
Contributed by: Scott Bradford