She was the youngest and most inexperienced intern in an established, older, and primarily male clergy team not far from a major health-care institution in New York City. That chilly autumn evening, when everyone else had already left and she was about to do the same, the phone rang.
“A terminal patient has asked for one of you to come to see him,” a nurse who said she was calling from the hospital told the young intern.
“I am the only one left here tonight,” she answered. “But it’s OK. I’ll go.”
When she arrived minutes later, a reception nurse told the young intern how to find the room and then hurried away.
The young intern knocked and came in.
“You asked for a religious person to see you?” she asked the man hesitantly.
“I was expecting someone older,” he told her bluntly, visibly disappointed.
“Would you rather I leave?” she asked, thinking her decision to answer the call had been a bad idea.
“Oh, no,” he said, mellowing a little. “Stay. You are enough.”
The young intern acquiesced. She dragged a chair by his bed and sat. She held his hands. They talked and talked. She prayed for him. An hour later the young intern said goodbye, promising to return in the morning.
When the young intern arrived at the hospital the following day, a nurse gave her the sad news. “The man died not long after you left,” she told her.
Years have passed. The young intern is now an established figure in her field. People now look up to her and seek her counsel. Her contributions are usually appreciated, and her words are treasured as wise and worthy of notice.
“I still face significant, sometimes daunting challenges,” she shares. “But every time in my service that I feel overwhelmed by the circumstances; every time that it seems I might not be able to cope; every time that I feel my qualifications, abilities, or acumen fall short of other people’s or my expectations, I picture the dying old man telling me, ‘You are enough.’ ”
By biblical definition, being human after the Garden of Eden is somewhat paradoxical. We were created “a little lower than the angels” and “crowned . . . with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5). And “we finish our years like a sigh,” as we are “cut off, and we fly away” (Ps. 90:9, 10). Being human is a work in progress, never to be completed this side of Paradise.
Against that background, sooner or later, we are pushed to face our shortcomings. Maybe it’s our inherited traits, bad habits, or lack of proficiency or experience. Perhaps it is that we are attempting too much or not enough. It may be the fallout of missed opportunities. Our best falls too short; our expected masterpieces turn out to be ordinary and stale. And deep down, we know it. Our family knows it. Our coworkers know it. God knows it.
Then we might need that still, calm voice that reminds us, “You are enough.” That voice might originate in a friend, a colleague, or even in a dying man in a dull hospital ward. It can also come after we dig in the Word to read, “You are precious and honored . . . and because I love you, I will give . . . nations in exchange for your life” (Isa. 43:4, NIV). No need to dwell on your shortcomings after such confirmation: you are enough!