As Lent begins, I thought I’d share these two stories. Both are classics, and worthy of contemplation:
The Doctor and the Father
A doctor entered the hospital in a hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He had answered the call, dropped what he was doing, and went directly to the surgery ward. He found the boy’s father pacing in the hall waiting for the doctor.
On seeing him, the father yelled, “Why did you take all this time to come? Don’t you know that my son’s life is in danger? Don’t you have any sense of responsibility?”
The doctor smiled and said, “I am sorry. I wasn’t in the hospital and I came as fast as I could after receiving the call. And now, I wish you’d calm down so that I can do my work.”
“Calm down?! If that was your son in that room, would you calm down?” asked the father angrily.
The doctor smiled again and replied, “I will say what Job said in the Holy Book: ‘From dust we came and to dust we return, blessed be the name of God.’ Doctors cannot prolong lives. Go and pray for your son, and we will do our best by God’s grace.”
“Giving such advice is easy when you’re not concerned,” murmured the father.
The surgery took many hours, after which the doctor went out happily to greet the father. “Thank goodness, the surgery was successful, and your son is saved!” And without waiting for the father’s reply, he carried on his way running down the hall toward the exit, as he yelled, “If you have any further questions, please ask the nurse!”
“Why is he so arrogant? He couldn’t wait a few minutes so that I could ask about my son’s state?” asked the father when he saw the nurse minutes after the doctor had left.
The nurse answered, tears coming down her face, “His son died yesterday in a car accident. He was at the funeral when we called him for your son’s surgery. And now that he saved your son’s life, he left running to attend what’s left of his son’s funeral.”
We go through life, never truly knowing what burdens others are carrying.
Which are you? The doctor, or the father?
Lunch with God
A little boy wanted to meet God. He packed his suitcase with dress clothes, and some packets of cakes for his journey. He walked a long way and felt tired.
As he sat in a park to rest, he opened a packet of cake to eat. Then he noticed an old woman sitting sadly with hunger nearby, so he offered her a piece of cake.
She gratefully accepted it with a wide look and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy longed to see it again. After some time, he offered another piece of cake. Again, she accepted it and smiled at him.
The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
When it grew dark, the boy was frightened and he got up to leave but before he had gone more than a few steps, he ran back and gave her a hug and she kissed him with her prettiest smile.
When the boy got home and opened the door, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you look so happy?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.” Before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen in my life!”
Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and asked, “Mom, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
She replied, “I ate cakes in the park with God.” Before her son responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. Each has the potential to turn a life around.
People come into our lives for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. Accept each of them equally, and let them see God in you.