Lent is a Time for Hope (Feb. 2012)

Lent begins this month, and we’ll be talking a lot about the contemplative nature of this special Christian season. In Lent we prepare ourselves and open our hearts to the wonders and pains and miracles and miracles to come in the story of Jesus. Even as we brace ourselves for the cruelty that he suffered, we try to remember the hope of his words, deeds and actions. 

I picked up the following story of hope when I was a chaplain resident at the Mayo Clinic. I’ve lost track of where it originated, but I share it with you anyway because of its powerful message.

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The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.

But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

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In the same way, God wouldn’t have sent someone like Jesus to a hopeless world.

So search for hope. Grab onto hope. Cherish hope!

— Pastor Gage 

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