A few years ago our family went through a difficult time. The Great Recession swept away our fragile home business and we were in danger of losing our home. We started questioning our understanding of God and the Bible, leading to the loss of our church family and some friendships. We had hopes of having a child which were continually dashed. It was hard for people in our lives to know how to help us, most of them having been insulated from these kinds of devastating losses. I felt ancient and alone.
I remember erupting in pain and tears at book club one night. I had lost hope and was truly not able to manufacture an ounce of belief that life could get better for us. The kind of faith that had previously structured my responses to life’s circumstances was gone for good. That night was a small release of pain, but nothing came, no relief. The grim details of life in these kind of conditions; food stamp lines, collection calls, silence from church members, well-meaning words of advice and admonishment from friends, shame… were pressing so hard a deep breath was impossible.
During this time one of our children became sick with a kidney infection. We were told there could be damage to her kidneys, and we should make an appointment for a special procedure to assess her condition. We had no money to cover the procedure, and had to make the difficult decision to put it off. Hopelessness continued. I cried as I listened to these song lyrics, “Keep on believing God is soaring above a world that’s running out of love. Pouring hope out over us, His angel doves.” I had no belief that we were worthy or significant enough to receive anything.
One afternoon, after arriving home from an errand, I noticed a small, white envelope under our front mat. In it was some money, enough for the medical procedure, and a short note asking us not to seek out the giver. After having the procedure the kind doctor informed us our daughter’s kidneys were functioning well.
Another time a family member left a box of food in our kitchen. A bit later a week’s worth of food was given to us by some new acquaintances.
I would be dishonest to say that any of these happenings revived a sense of hope in us. They were tiny drops of water in the desert. But these people carried us. Their faith covered us when we had none, and we were given a heartbeat of relief to keep funneling our every effort into surviving. Meeting our immediate needs meant we could take tiny steps into believing again that the world could be good.
Hope came again, slowly, without us even realizing it. One day I took a deep breath. One day I laughed out loud. One day we were able to leave food on a doorstep for someone else, infusing it with our fledgling faith in hope’s return.