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  • Writer's pictureHope Stuart

When EMPTINESS Fills Us with HOPE

Normally, the word EMPTY is synonymous with negative thoughts. An EMPTY stomach means hunger. An EMPTY gas tank stops our travel plans. EMPTY feelings can be associated with mental health issues such as depression. Feeling EMPTY is never a good place to be… when attached to worldly situations. However, when an eternal perspective is placed on a worldly concept, an entirely new meaning emerges from the EMPTINESS. EnJOY this true Easter story written by Ida Mae Kempel packed with an EMPTINESS message that will FILL you with HOPE…

The Empty Egg-The Lesson of Easter from an Unlikely Child

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day, she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Foresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students."

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.

She wanted to sympathize with the Foresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. 'Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,' she thought. 'Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.' From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares.

Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red.

She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic empty Easter egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically -- all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their Easter eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk.

After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the now filled empty eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life, "she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

The next empty egg shell contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. "Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed. Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The Easter egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's, she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents.

Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my Easter egg?"

Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your Easter egg is empty." He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too."

Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?

"Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up." "And that's how Easter started!"

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold that was inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 Easter eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

God meets us in our EMPTINESS and FILLS us with His love and HOPE. He comforts, strengthens and blesses us with His Grace. When we at our EMPTIEST place is when He is able to FILL us with His love and HOPE the most. He uses our most vulnerable moments to stretch our faith and rewards us with eternal gifts only He can provide. He won't leave us hungry, abandoned or lonely... He will sustain, provide for and love us. It's in those EMPTY seasons when we draw closer to Him. Those moments are when we learn the most about His character, His love and His HOPE. It's in our EMPTY moments when we learn that He withholds no good thing and works all things for good.

It wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love. Jesus’ resurrection three days after His crucifixion completely replaced our EMPTY lives FULL of sin with an EMPTY tomb FULL of HOPE. The EMPTINESS that Jesus’ followers felt the day He died on the cross was completely replaced with feelings FULL of HOPE when the EMPTY tomb was discovered. It is only God who can FILL an EMPTY person with HOPE.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

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