Struggling to live on next-to-nothing, our year in a central Italian village was tough. Especially because of the people’s closed and suspicious attitudes toward us. Not that we escaped unnoticed, though! The drug addicts we helped visited often, which is only right. The needy should be able to turn to us.
We had no problem with it, but the neighbors?
Either they just didn’t like us, or it bothered them to have the ‘outcasts’ of society around. Either way, they ordered the landlord: “Throw them out, or we’ll call the police”. But since he only cared about the rent money, we stayed. And our door remained, as it always will be, open to all in need.
Things remained difficult. Homesick and harassed by the people, we felt abandoned and forgotten.
Life was literally a hand-to-mouth existence, often with nothing in the house for the next meal. Yet, we never went without, and never had to turn away those who, oddly enough, always seemed to drop by at lunchtime! No problem, we were used to watery soup anyway!
That’s why it astonished me when one of our regulars opened a bag saying, “This doesn’t get used since my mother passed away, and I thought you might like it.”
For I had a wish. Just a tiny one, but when it’s hard to buy necessities like milk and bread, even little things seem enormously expensive. So I hadn’t told anyone or even prayed about it.
But sometimes God answers even before we call.
And at times, through the most unlikely candidates. For out of that bag came the very thing I’d been dreaming of — an electric mixer! And I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that God had used this person with his life in ruins to answer my silent cry.
That little gift showed me two important truths.
First, that God knows our hearts.
My inward plea for a mixer was really a longing for something more. I wanted life to get easier. I didn’t want a hand-to-mouth existence. I didn’t want to be be hated, ridiculed, and treated badly. I wanted things to change.
God heard that cry. And it was as though he sent that mixer, that no one else even knew about, to let me know that he always hears us. Does God really care about such little things as mixers? Perhaps not, but he does want to teach us constant trust. And he’s willing to use even the smallest things to do so.
Second, that even though he answers, things don’t always change.
Christmas was difficult that year. We not only felt lonely, we felt totally alone. Family was so far away, and we felt forgotten by friends. Our neighbors spread horrible lies about us. We had no money even to buy our kids shoes.
But I had decided that even if we couldn’t have anything else, we should have our Christmas eggnog. I needed it to restore hope. Except that my special eggnog takes whipped cream, and whipped cream takes a mixer. A mixer that mysteriously arrived at just the right moment. And oh how we savored our eggnog that year! Even though nothing else changed.
And just like our year in that village remained tough, your circumstances may not change either. It may sometimes seem like God doesn’t hear or care. But he uses those hard times to make us more like him. And to each us to trust no matter how bad things get.
He hears and answers in some way. It’s just that he’s often just working behind the scenes. And even when the answer we hope for doesn’t come we can still trust him.
Because he’s working all things out for our good, just in his own way.
It will happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear — Isaiah 65:24.