“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.
Ed Arle, D. Min., retired pastor and pastoral counselor
Let me tell you about a most remarkable little boy and the teacher who loved him in a most remarkable way. In their story, we can each see ourselves, and the great love Jesus gives us so freely.
This is their story:
David* was a 7-year-old boy, one of six children in a special needs classroom that met in the lower level of the grade school in which my wife was teaching.
As my wife tells it, the screaming began outside her classroom door.
David was having a difficult day, and so was his teacher. Mrs. Douglas was known throughout the school for her extraordinary patience, but David was an extraordinary child.
As the screaming continued, my wife opened the door a bit to see if perhaps Mrs. Douglas could use some assistance.
What she saw was Mrs. Douglas kneeling beside a small boy with blond hair; her arms were wrapped tightly around him as she gently spoke to him while he continued to scream.
This was her way of bringing a traumatized young boy out of his nightmare and back into our world.
Later, after school, Mrs. Douglas apologized for the disruption and explained that David and his younger sister came from a home where they had been abused.
Their clothes were the same for several days in a row, left unwashed. The children had not been bathed. They were often hungry.
Because they came to school in all kinds of weather wearing inappropriate clothing, Mrs. Douglas sometimes changed their clothes for the day providing them with fresh clothes that she had purchased for the occasion.
That’s when she found the bruises on their thin little bodies. Her reason for letting David scream was to allow him to express his pent-up anger and fear for the way he was treated at home.
Over the course of time, the screaming sessions became shorter and shorter and eventually stopped altogether.
I have listened to my wife’s telling of this story many times. Each time she tells it I think of all the Davids I have known in my lifetime as a pastor and pastoral counselor.
So often the lonely and wounded heart cries out for a compassionate ear that will take the time to listen, until the pain goes away, or at least diminishes, wrapped in the mercy of Christ Jesus.
We also long to be understood. We long to let out the frustration, struggle, anger and sorrow when it comes. We know loneliness and hurt and what it can do to the soul.
By the grace of God there is always a “Mrs. Douglas” to show us Jesus has never, and will never, leave us or forsake us.
Jesus meets us in His Word, and often, it’s when we meet Jesus in the love of someone who cares, that we can begin to remember Jesus has been there all along.
(Jesus said) “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Lord, wrap me in your love today. Remind me of your mercy as I carry it to the Davids I encounter. Let me also receive Your care through the tenderness of those around me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
*names in this devotion have been changed to respect the privacy of both David and his teacher
LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.