The late night call startled Cheryl. She checked the caller ID before picking up. It was silent.
"Lori?" she asked.
"Who's gone?" Cheryl probed.
"Brian. He packed a suitcase and left Wednesday morning. He said he didn't want to be married anymore."
"Oh, Lori, I am so sorry!" Sobs were drowning out Cheryl’s words. "Are you home alone?"
"Yes. Ashley is at camp. Josh left for college last week."
"I'll be right there."
Twenty minutes later, Cheryl pulled into Lori's driveway. The porch light flipped on and the front door opened. Though it was nearly 1:00 a.m., Lori was fully dressed in rumpled clothing. Her hair was unkempt, her makeup tear-washed away. The friends of many years hugged while Lori cried more.
"I just keep going over in my mind what went wrong. Why did this happen? I knew Brian had been quieter than usual lately, but we weren’t fighting. I thought he was just tired from work. What am I going to do?"
"Have you slept?" ever-practical Cheryl asked. Lori shook her head.
"Eaten?" Again, another shake.
"Let's make some breakfast." Cheryl suggested.
"I don’t know what to do." Lori's voice trembled as she picked at her eggs and toast.
"Pray about everything and take one day at a time." Cheryl advised.
"Brian and I have been married for more than 20 years. I can’t manage on my own." Tears streamed down her cheeks again.
"Yes, you can." Her friend stated firmly, but hopelessness prevented Lori from hearing.
"How will I take care of this house and the car? I don't make enough money to pay the mortgage. What if we end up in some dumpy apartment somewhere...or homeless? And what about Ashley? She adores her Daddy. She's only 13. What will this do to her?" Lori's eyes widened with horror. "What if Ashley wants to live with her Dad and not me? I couldn't bear that, I just couldn't! What if Josh has to quit college?" Lori's voice was rising in panic.
"Stop!" Cheryl almost yelled. "You’re letting the devil tell you lies. How big is God?"
"What...what are you talking about?" Lori frowned and shook her head.
Cheryl reached across the table and took Lori’s hand. "How many crises has God walked you through?" she asked.
Lori appeared dazed. Reddened eyes looked quizzically at her friend, but not really seeing. Trembling fingers fidgeted with the napkin. She struggled to maintain her composure and to comprehend what Cheryl was saying.
"Remember the time when your lost your job right when you and Brian first bought this house? You were pregnant after 2 miscarriages. You were so sure that you’d lose both the house and the baby. Our women's group prayed for you every day. What happened?"
"I got a better job that had insurance benefits. And Ashley was born--beautiful and healthy." Lori smiled remembering her joy at that time.
"Right! How about the time Josh broke his leg skiing. You were so concerned that he wouldn't be able to play sports again. How did that turn out?"
"His leg healed perfectly. He's at college on a basketball scholarship now."
"And let's not forget the time your garage burned down with the car in it. What happened after that?"
"People from the church and neighborhood came to help clean up and rebuild. Brian’s brother loaned a car to us."
"Lori, if God can provide a job, healing, and rebuilding something that was destroyed, then He can handle this, too."
"But I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. It's even hard to breathe. My mind is spinning. I don't know what to do--don't know where to go. What will I tell the kids? I'm lost...just lost."
"God knows exactly where you are."
“The Lord has certainly been there for me in the past.” Lori agreed, wiping her nose on the napkin.
While her friend cleared the half-eaten meal from the table, Lori stared out the window at the first rays of dawn. She looked incredibly fragile, as if a mere touch would shatter the thin veneer of hope that had come to rest on her.
"Will my children and I survive this, Cheryl?"
"Absolutely, yes! The Lord will lead you all step by step."
"How can I know?"
"Look at what He’s already done. And look at me. I’m living proof. He did that for me. He'll do the same for you."
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
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