Rose-Marie knew love existed—true, romantic only-come-once kind of love. That sense of belonging. That perfect fit she had felt way back when. Even though it had never been defined from the long-ago past, the seed lay silent and still in her heart. Maybe it would sprout within her marriage. If she never gave up. If she did all the right things, said all the right words, and just tried hard enough. Surely that love existed. Surely there was hope.
Years passed. She birthed children. She struggled against poverty. She rejoiced in the new life of springtime and the goodness of the earth abundant in harvest. And she loved, the best she knew with compassion and care, yet in the hidden regions, a faint memory of that special type of love lingered. This choice to love was not the same. Her heart knew the difference, but it was still.
Nonetheless, God should be pleased with her trying, and searching, and her obedience. He should be pleased, indeed. Hope remained within the seed-truth of her heart. The longed-for love was there, somewhere. It had to be. It just had to.
There was a young, married couple in her life who seemed quite in love. They were professionals, with more money than she would ever see and a good many rungs ahead on the social ladder. They took an interest and drew her and her family into their world.
Until, one day, the phone rang.
Rose-Marie hurried in from hanging diapers on the line.
“So, have you heard?”
“Heard what?” Rose-Marie’s grasp tightened on the receiver.
“They’re splitting up.”
“What?” Rose-Marie plopped down on the closest chair; her chest tight. Not two people who had everything going for them. Surely not.
The voice on the other end explained, but it didn’t matter how the separation had happened. It had happened.
Head swimming, Rose-Marie returned to the diapers. Keep clipping clothespins. Clip. Hang. Clip.
If those two could not make marriage work, how could she? How could anyone? Maybe there was no such thing as true love.
Shake out a diaper. Pin it quick. Shake another against the wind. Be slapped in the face with white wetness. Shake.
If true love did not exist, then what….
What if God does not exist?
Days passed. She went through the motions of life.
She visited the town library.
That evening, curled at the end of the couch beneath a lamp, she began to read. Cocooned within the pages, a true story unfolded, took wings, and flew straight to her heart.
The author and his wife lived a life of oneness and joy. Love, he wrote, if it was the real thing, required that a spark leap back and forth between the lovers. Things would become intense. Love would build up like voltage in a coil. True love was not the sound of just one hand clapping. Oh, no. Love was mutual.
Rose-Marie stared unseeing into the quiet of the room. A dawning awareness crept into her mind. True, romantic love and oneness did exist.
The story told how the couple found God together and realized an even greater bond. Then his wife became ill and died.
Afterwards, through years of grief, he came to see his wife’s death as a mercy—one God had allowed for his ultimate good. He called it a severe mercy.
Rose-Marie closed the book, tears streaming.
True love was real. The story proved it. The promise within her own heart had always affirmed it.
Summer shimmered its way toward early fall and produced her garden’s bounty. Her mind stayed as busy as her hands. Where was that Bible verse about faith? Maybe, Hebrews. She left the rows of corn and leaned the hoe against the house. Inside, her Bible almost opened itself and she read. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is.
“Here I’ve been praying to You, God, while I’ve wondered if You even are, but there’s no concrete evidence. So, what are my alternatives?”
Belief or unbelief. The choice is yours.
If she chose not to believe, God could still exist. Truth would remain despite her unbelief. Truth would remain, but she would be left with despair. If she believed in God, she would have to believe by faith, but she would have hope. Clear enough. Hope was worth everything.
God protected Rose-Marie’s hope by simple means—a troubled marriage, a phone call, and a well-told story. He tailor-made her experience to fill her felt need.
How has your hope been kept alive? What simple ways has you heart-need been met?