The past several months had been very difficult on Hope as she tried to navigate through a myriad of disasters descending upon her life in such a rapid succession that her father said it reminded him of his days as a World War II pilot maneuvering his B-17 around a hail of gunfire and burning debris falling from the sky.
All that was familiar and certain in her world was suddenly wrenched away as though caught in the destructive force of a hurricane. Her job was outsourced. Her husband filed for divorce. Then, came that blustery November afternoon when an errant driver speeding through a red light plowed into her car and fled the scene, leaving her seriously injured.
As she lay frightened and alone in a hospital room with only strangers to comfort her, she fell into deep despair. For so many years, her life had been so full of good fortune that she had come to live with the expectation it would all continue. A highly energetic, capable person, she was accustomed to making things happen through sheer will and hard work, and her success was reflected in her many accomplishments and possessions.
She had accepted Jesus as a child, but her faith had never really been tested . . . until now.
During these dark days of pain, uncertainty and fear, she questioned God with the petulance of a child, railing at Him in anger and tears of sorrow, pleading for answers to why her world had fallen apart. But as the days turned to weeks, her prayers didn’t seem to yield any relief, and she was beginning to feel that God was turning a deaf ear to her pleas.
Several weeks later, when she was discharged from the hospital, there was no one available to drive her home. Her ex-husband was newly remarried, and none of her friends were willing to take time off from work. She had been so busy with her own interests that she had never bothered to meet anyone in her neighborhood. So, with a weary sigh, she called a taxicab and prayed she had enough money to pay the fare.
At home, she was greeted by a stack of bills and balky heater, which was the last thing she needed as the days crept closer to Christmas. There just didn’t seem to be anything to celebrate this year.
One morning, when Hope was just finishing breakfast, she heard the doorbell ring.
A tiny, little old lady, leaning on a cane decorated with green and red ribbon, beamed at her. “My name is Alice Thomas . . . I live two blocks over.”
“Good morning,” Hope said quietly at this intrusion, secretly hoping that the lady didn’t want something from her.
“I can’t stay but just a minute . . . I have more doors to knock on.”
“Oh, no,” Hope groaned inwardly. The lady was probably asking for money.
Adjusting herself on the cane, Mrs. Thomas straightened as proudly as she could on her trembling legs and said, “I’m inviting you to my house tonight for home group Bible study . . . just bring your Bible and yourself.” She reached into the pocket of her sweater and retrieved a 3x5 index card.
Hope mumbled a promise to consider it and closed the door, watching the little lady carefully navigating her way to the door of each home in the cul-de-sac. She looked down at the card and read the words written in spidery handwriting:
“A man finds you in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!”*
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