[Since this is contemporary fiction, and it may not be obvious, all persons and events in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely accidental.]
Dr. Philip McDermott was brutally awakened at 4:00 AM by the ringing of his phone. He was not on call for the emergency room that Sunday, but as the single trauma specialist in the county, he was always a backup. In this small town the number of cases that would require his attention was small, so he rarely worried about it.
“We’re going to need you this morning. There’s an accident victim, a young girl, being brought here with massive injuries.”
“I’ll be there in five minutes.”
And indeed he could be there. As he quickly dressed, then jogged the two blocks to the hospital, he wondered briefly why they had not taken her immediately to the nearest trauma center, but he immediately realized that the helicopter needed must already be out, and the EMTs on the spot must have thought she wouldn’t make it in the ambulance.
As he entered the emergency room, the scene was chaos. This emergency room normally responded to things like serious colds, and the occasional accident victim who would be treated and released. The ambulance had just arrived, and the girl was being carried in. It seemed her parents had made as good of time as the ambulance, and her distraught father was interfering with the E. R. personnel as he tried to get answers and reassurance.
He realized that his first step in treating the girl would begin with her father, so he took hold of his arm, looked him straight in the eye and said, “I’m Dr. McDermott, trauma specialist. We’re going to do everything possible.” He held the father’s eyes for a moment longer, and saw him settle, then he turned to the girl.
She was 10 years old, what was left of her. Her mangled body lay in stark contrast to the white sheets. It’s amazing, he thought, that she is alive at all. How can I possibly manage to stabilize her enough to move? How has she survived the ambulance ride thus far?
Irrelevantly, it seemed to him, his scripture reading for that morning’s Easter Sunrise service came to mind. That was where he had thought he would be this morning, but he now knew that no matter what happened he wouldn’t be reading it:
(25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never see death forever. Do you believe this? (27) She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God, who has come into the world.” — John 11:25-27
Silently, he repeated part of the last verse to himself. Yes, Lord, I believe.
He set to work. He was glad to see across from him Nurse Williams. Nobody ever called her anything else. It seemed that “nurse” was so much a part of her that you couldn’t imagine her as anything else. He always just called her “Nurse” and she called him “Doctor.” New people in the ER thought that they must not like each other very much, but those who hung around came to realize that each thought the other was precisely what their profession should be. To them there was one Nurse and one Doctor in this town.
As he worked, he found prayers passing through his mind under his thoughts on what to do next. If they had really been part of his conscious thinking, he would have dismissed them. Though he was a believer, one of his core beliefs was that when one carried out medical procedures, one did so with total concentration, heart, mind, and soul. Applying the best medical care was not just the most important thing; it was the only thing that mattered.
Thirty minutes later he was notified that the helicopter was heading their way. It would still be another 20 minutes getting to them. Would they be able to move the girl, or should they go on to something else? He looked at the vital signs, and at the work he had done already.
“Tell them to come on. We’ll have her ready for them.”
The next 20 minutes were nonetheless filled with activity for him. He remained totally calm and focused. One thing at a time. Push everything else out, and focus on one thing. Yet still he knew that as a background to each and every decision, each and every move he made there was a praying voice in his head.
They passed the little girl to the trauma crew on the helicopter, still in critical condition, but with every chance of surviving the flight to the hospital. He had every reason to hope that with good care she would make it.
He talked with the girl’s parents and sent them on to the city, then he settled in to make notes on the chart. He was amazed as he looked at the list of things that he and his team had done in less than an hour. He was more amazed that they had not declared the girl dead some time ago, and that his conversation with the parents had not been to pass on the bad news, but now to give a message of hope.
Nurse Williams stopped him as he put down the chart. “Doctor?”
“Yes?” She never stopped him unless she had something medical to talk about.
“Were you praying as you worked on that girl?”
“Was I?” He paused. Then he remembered. He must have said something aloud. “Yes, I suppose I was.”
“Do you really think God might help that little girl?”
“It seems to me that he has.”
“There was nothing miraculous in there, Doctor. There was a hell of a lot of good medical care. If you hadn’t been here, that little girl would be dead. She needed you more than God!”
“It seems to me that she needed both. It was God that arranged for me to be here. He provided me with parents who taught me to serve, so that I would choose to return to my small hometown.”
“But your father is an atheist! Just this Christmas he sued the city to remove a nativity display from the grounds at city hall!”
“Yes, and I arranged to have the display put in front of our church. He still taught me to serve. He arranged to have people donate the money for the equipment that we used. He arranged for that ambulance to be right near the scene to bring the little girl here. He arranged for me to be at home, just a two block jog to the E.R.”
“But none of that is miraculous. It’s all natural!”
“Yes, natural. And yet,” he said, looking out the window, “that little girl is alive.”
As he walked out the door to the ER he saw the sun just peeking over the tops of the trees. About this moment, his pastor would be concluding the sunrise service. He hoped someone had volunteered to replace him reading the scripture!
He would have said, “He is Risen!”
Along with the congregation, Philip McDermott said, “He is risen indeed!”