Christmas Eve came on Sunday that year. As a result, the usual Sunday night youth group meeting at the church was going to be a big celebration. The mother of two teenage girls asked Robert after the morning service if he could find a ride for her girls that night. She was divorced. Her ex-husband had moved away. She hated to drive at night, especially since there was a possibility of freezing rain that night. Robert promised to get the girls to the meeting.
The girls were seated beside him as they drove to the church that night. They came up over a rise in the road, only to see that a multiple collision had just taken place on a railroad overpass just ahead. Because it had started to freeze and the road was very slick, they were unable to stop and slammed into the back of a car. Robert turned to see if the girls were fine when he heard the scream from the girl beside him. “Oh, Donna!” Robert leaned forward to see what had happened to the girl seated by the window. She had been thrown face first through the windshield. The jagged edge of the broken windshield glass had gouged two deep gashes in her left cheek. Blood was streaming down. It was a horrible sight.
Fortunately, someone in one of the other cars had a first aid kit and applied a compress to Donna’s cheek to stop the bleeding. The investigating police officer said the accident was unavoidable and there would be no charges made, but Robert felt terrible that a beautiful 16-year-old girl would have to go through life with scars on her face. And it had happened when she was in his care.
At the hospital emergency room, Donna was taken immediately to the doctor to have her face stitched up. It seemed to take a long time. Afraid there were complications, Robert asked a nurse why the delay. She said the doctor on duty happened to be a plastic surgeon. He took many small time-consuming stitches. This also meant there would be minimal scar tissue.
Robert dreaded visiting Donna in the hospital, fearful she would be angry and blame him. Since it was Christmas, the doctors in the hospital tried to send patients home and also postponed elective surgery. As a result, there were not many patients on Donna’s floor. Robert asked a nurse how Donna was doing. The nurse smiled and said she was doing just fine. In fact, she was like a ray of sunshine. Donna seemed happy and kept asking questions about the medical procedures. The nurse confided that with so few patients on the floor, the nurses had time on their hands and made up excuses to go into Donna’s room to chat with her!
Robert told Donna how sorry he was for what had happened. She brushed the apology aside, saying she would cover the scars with pancake make-up. Then she began to excitedly explain what the nurses had been doing in the hospital. The nurses stood around her bed smiling. Donna seemed very happy. This was her first time in a hospital and she was intrigued.
Later at school, Donna was the center of attention as she described again and again the wreck and what happened in the hospital. Her mother and sister did not blame Robert for what happened and even went out of their way to thank him for taking care of the girls that night. As for Donna, her face was not disfigured and pancake make-up almost covered the scars. That made Robert feel better, but he still ached for the pretty girl with the scarred face. A year later, Robert moved to another city and lost touch with Donna and her family.
Fifteen years later, Robert was invited back to the church for a series of services. The last night, he noticed Donna’s mother stood in the line of people waiting to tell him goodbye. He shuddered as the memories of the wreck, the blood and the scars cascaded back. When Donna’s mother stood before him she had a big smile on her face. She was almost laughing when she asked if he knew what had happened to Donna. Of course, Robert did not know what had happened.
“Well, did you remember how interested she was in what the nurses did?” Donna’s mother went on:
“Well, Donna decided to be a nurse. She went into training, graduated with honors, got a good job in a hospital, met a young doctor, they fell in love and are happily married and have two beautiful children. She told me to be sure to tell you that the accident was the best thing that ever happened to her!”
Our real blessings often appear to us in the shapes of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.