Ease the pain

Years ago, a woman named Dorothy was severely burned while attempting to extinguish a grease fire on her stove. She was left with second and third degree burns all over her arms and face.

Dorothy was taken to a local hospital where a team of doctors administered treatment. Perhaps no pain is as excruciating as that of being burned, and no process more traumatic than that of having skin grafted back onto your body. Dorothy had to undergo a series of skin grafts that kept her in the hospital for several weeks.

This made Dorothy extremely difficult. The doctors, nurses and hospital staff could not get along with her. She refused to accept visitors nor their gifts and argued constantly with her doctors. She frustrated the entire staff. The pain of the accident and the difficulty of the healing process had transformed Dorothy into a bitter and antagonistic woman.

One day, Dorothy met another patient who introduced himself simply as Sarge. It was obvious by looking at him that his burns were far worse than hers, and she later heard stories of the incredibly painful skin grafts that had been done over most of his body. And yet this man was continually at her bedside, offering her a cup of coffee or some juice, or just asking if he could be of service. She discovered that he did this with many patients in the burn unit. Although his pain was probably the worst, he had somehow found within himself the ability to transcend it and serve others.

His positive attitude was contagious. He brought hope and life and love to a place filled with tragedy. Dorothy was amazed at his buoyant spirit and depth of compassion. But Sarge conveyed more than good manners. He was genuinely loving and kind. He was a good man. He had made some difference in Dorothy. Doctors and nurses were quick to find a slight change in Dorothy's countenance. Still, Dorothy remained a resentful patient and an embittered woman.

Dorothy thought that Sarge could manage to be so encouraging probably because he had more reason than she did to be happy. Sure, his burns were worse, but her pain was probably deeper than his.

One evening Sarge came to Dorothy's bedside and they chatted for a while. He said with excitement that after a few more operations, he would be able to return home. He described how wonderful his children were and how proud he was of his wife, who had just graduated from college. Dorothy asked the name of the college, and when Sarge told her, she was stunned.

'Sarge, that's a black college,' she said. 'Your wife isn't black, is she?'

Sarge was quiet for a moment and then said, 'Yes, Ma'am. What color do you think I am?'

And that did it. Sarge was burned so badly that Dorothy never had any idea his skin was black. Surely her pains could no longer compare with his. From that day on, Dorothy became a different woman. She, too, began to encourage the other patients in the burn unit.

Sarge shows us that the best way to ease your pain is to help ease the pain of others. No one gets anywhere by being embittered. Are you the faithful employee who has once more been bypassed in the company's latest round of promotions? You can be embittered or you can extend your hand and encourage someone else.

You can ease your own pain.

Are you the person who has just met a terrible accident? Or maybe you are trapped in a wheelchair for the rest of your life? You can go blame God and men for your tragedy or you can encourage others. You can ease your own pain.

We are all called to be encouragers. A life that inspires others is a life that is well lived. There are no preset qualifications for anyone to become an encourager. What matters to God is the condition of your soul.

1 Samuel 16:7 tells us wisely: 'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'

From Francis Kong's 'Life's Work'

Yet still another one from my inbox. :-)


TK said…
that inbox sure is a treasure trove. thanks for posting this pre!
Ronald Allan said…
No problem pre. I've had to wade through tons of junk email just to find it. :-)

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