Friday, March 14, 2008

Hopeful, or Hopeless?

As the children and I were leaving the grocery store this afternoon, I noticed a neighbor walking in. I hadn't seen her in many months, and turned to greet her. I called out, "Hello, Mrs. _____!" She turned to look at me, said hello, and continued on her way. I probably should have let her go, but I didn't. I continued for a very short time, 30 seconds, perhaps 45, to make small talk. She appeared to be weary; her eyes were bloodshot, and she looked as though she were going to cry. She simply said, "I have become a recluse since all of my friends died last year."

Trying to lighten the mood, I asked, "All of them?"

"Two of them, and that's all I had." She turned and walked away.

My heart was breaking for her, and there I stood, dumbfounded, my children at my sides. I've known this woman for several years now, and she has never been truly happy. By all outward appearances, she should be. She lives in a beautiful home, drives a nice car, and her husband loves her. She has no wants or needs that aren't met. She vacations several times a year.

So what's missing? Hope. A relationship with Jesus. There is no hope without him. I wanted to tell her, but I didn't. I have shared my faith with her in the past, and she didn't want to listen. I think it's why she was so quick to avoid me. I've never been pushy, I just answered honestly when she asked my why I was happy.

Mrs. _____ shared with me some time ago that she believed there were many ways to find inner peace. For some it might be Jesus, for some Buddha, for some just being in nature was enough. She told me that she didn't think it mattered what you believed, as long as it made you feel good. I politely disagreed. Maybe I was too polite.

The children were astounded by her gruff demeanor today. As we drove home, we talked about how, without God, this world really isn't a pleasant place. So much suffering and sorrow. We who know Christ can rejoice because there is something better. So much better.

Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things. Jeremiah 14:22

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 1 Corinthians 1:8-10

This Hymn also comes to mind:

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain


22 comments:

Rebecca said...

Your post was beautiful and thought-provoking. It's what I have built my life around and it's that faith and hope that sustains me. I've been reminded of late how many, many Mrs.______ there are in this world, looking for one thing after another to bring them fulfillment. God gave you and opportunity to share your faith and you took it. Thanks, Tracy for your post today.

weavermom said...

Tracy,
I will be praying that the Lord will lead you exactly where He is asking you to go. My heart is heavy for her - so much hurt and loneliness in the world, and as you said, so little hope if you aren't looking in the right places.

May her bumping into you remind her of things you have shared and spark a possibility of hope in her heart.

50shousewife said...

How sad for that lady! Poor thing! A least it was a good teachable moment for your children.

"My hope is built on nothing less" is my MOST favorite hymn. How appropriate.

Angi said...

Maybe you could make her a CD of that song and a few others and send her a card. . . . .
Just an idea . . . .
Life with Hope (Christ) is no life!

Tracy said...

I'm glad you've made it home again, Tracy. I love the idea of goodie boxes for your children. They look so attractive and delightful.

I hope and pray that God will give you more opportunities to encourage Mrs__ to look to Him for the answers she seeks. Hopefully she will be able to see this through the way that you cared for her in those few minutes.

His Girl said...

this was a beautiful post. I really believe that you would be surprised at what seeds you sewed today!

Julieann said...

I could totally see a lady with bloodshot eyes and the sadness that you spoke of--I think we all know people like that, so very sad-((Gentle Hugs)))

I also wanted to say I am glad you are back safe and sound!

Julieann

Mimi said...

I pray that the Lord will make her cross your path...several times until you are able to say just the right thing that will click with her...and make her want to look further into the peace and joy that you have enough to want to seek it for herself...
praying for you in your witness to her...
Mimi

Stacie said...

Hi Mrs. K,

I love the words of that hymn. Our hope is built on Jesus Christ. It was a very thought provoking post. I'm sure that many people are like your neighbor and appear like they have everything they could ever want, but something is missing. Jesus is not in their lives. What hope can we have without Jesus in our lives? I'm praying God will work in your neighbor's heart and continue using you to share His love. I am sure that she sees something different in you all that she would love to have. I pray that the Lord will comfort her at this time of loss and loneliness, and convict her of her need for Christ.

God bless!

Haus Frau said...

This woman's hopeless existence grieves me, and yet, the Lord put her in your path for a reason. At God's appointed time you shared with her then later renewed a neighborly relationship just by reaching out. She shared her heart with you and through that one act, offered up ways to pray for her and show Christ's love to her.

The seeds you originally planted will be nourished by the working of our precious Holy Spirit in her heart. It would appear that you very well may be that willing vessel to be led by our Father in further reaching out to her. Tis a blessing to be used by our Lord.

I'll be praying, Tracy. Thank you so much for sharing. <><

Haus Frau said...

btw...

a most excellent choice in hymn for such a time.

Penless Thoughts said...

So sad & the plight of so many. Jesus wept.
Susan

Abounding Treasures said...

A very thought provoking post and such a common sad happening as there are many like "Mrs _" in the world today, without hope and without peace.

You shared with her before how your hope was built on nothing less that Jesus' blood and righteousness and God brought you across her path again at this sad time, I believe, for a reason!

May He work on Mrs __'s heart and draw her to Him through you and your willingness to share His love.

I remember often sharing those same words with my children as they were growing up as they would see even members of our own extended family who have no interest at all in the claims of Christ upon them.

Blessings,
Mrs M

Lori said...

Great post. That is so sad about that lady. I pray she finds comfort and happiness in Jesus.
I love that song.

Just stopping by your site to say hello and catch up on your blog.
I've missed you. I have finally found time to post. So stop by and check it out if you get a chance.

Daughter of the King said...

Great post Tracy, so moving so sad yet I am praying the Lord will somehow use you in some way in this ladies life. I love the hymn you chose to go with your post.
Deby

Sofia said...

i don't want to be rude but i totally agreed with your neighbor!

i'm sure it would help her if she would find comfort from jesus, but that's not the only way! people live happily in india and china - without jesus, and have lived for many centuries. it depends about many things that what kind of hope people need in their lifes.

i don't belive in god and i never had but still i keep myself as a very happy person! i have everything that i need. i belive in myself and i belive that i can do anything i want to if i just work har enough for it. i want NOBODY to feel sorry for me.

i let everyone to belive what they want to belive and i want them to respect my outlook on life. after all what am i to say what people should or should not to belive.

anyway i just want you to know that people without god are liveing perfectly satisfying life around the world! i'm happy that god gives you so much but he has nothing to offer me and i'm fine with that!

p.s. i'm a huge fan of your blog and i share lot of opinions with you, like the thing about young girls and their dressing..

-sofia (i'm so sorry about all mistakes in spelling, my mothertongue is not english :--)

Ginger said...

This world really needs Jesus!

I hae witnessed my own child full of turmoil as she walked away from the Lord and couldn't find inner peace. I'm am giving praise that she is open and changing little by little.

There is nothing worse than a person with no hope or purpose.

I pray that we all find the right means given by the Holy Spirit to meet the needs of those so lost in this dying world.

The resurrection is HOPE and LIFE.

han_ysic said...

If a child can see so clearly, why can the adults not see. No wonder Jesus told us that we should become as though little children to enter the kingdom of God. Children see things more clearly. We had a sermon last night on Hell. Leading up to Easter, talking about that there is a choice people need to make. During the sermon the pastor's 4 year old daughter kept telling her mum in the front row. Hell is really bad, tell Daddy to tell them it's really bad. Her mum got up and whispered to him what her daughter had said, but when he didn't say it to her liking she got up and told him herself, and he passed the message on.

I pray we all remember what we have been saved from (THE GREATEST HORROR) as well as for (THE GREATEST HOPE), and have the courage to speak to those God brings into our lives.

Hannah

Tracy said...

Dear Sofia,

I'd like to thank you for expressing your difference of opinion in a kind and respectful way. I do pray that my words come across in a like manner.

Since you said that you are a huge fan of my blog, surely you know that I am a Christian. My life revolves around God. Though I fail daily, I strive to bring God glory through my life. I'm not called to keep what I know of a wonderfully good Creator and Savior to myself, but I'm to share what I believe with those around me; those whom I meet in person, and those who read my blog.

Of course, I wouldn't get far if I walked around expressing my every opinion to everyone I meet. I wouldn't tell my friends how to wash their dishes, fold their laundry, or train their dogs unless they asked me for advice. However, if asked my opinion, I'm generally not shy about giving it. Also, if my friend wanted to go to Finland, but was boarding a plane to Brazil, I would stop them, and tell them that they were going the wrong way. The souls of those whom I love are much more important than arriving in the wrong country.

You said, "i'm sure it would help her if she would find comfort from jesus, but that's not the only way! people live happily in india and china - without jesus, and have lived for many centuries. it depends about many things that what kind of hope people need in their lifes."

Sure, there are other ways to find temporary comfort. A card from a friend, a good cry, or holding the hand of a loved one can all bring comfort, but these comforts are not everlasting. And people all over the world acknowledge a creator and a god. Sadly, many worship false gods, and many make themselves a god by putting themselves at the center of everything, and living only for themselves. These people may feel satisfied for a while, but they are always longing for more. They are never content.

I don't know much about you, but since your Blogger profile states that you are a student, I assume that you are young. You tell me that you are happy, and I'm sure that you are. I know many people, without Christ, who are happy. I also know many people who seemed to be happy for years, only to discover that they no longer are, but they don't know why.

You stated that you don't believe in God, but you also said that He has nothing to offer you. I find this to be a contradiction. So, do you believe in God, but not give Him any consideration at this point in your life?

You said, "i let everyone to belive what they want to belive and i want them to respect my outlook on life. after all what am i to say what people should or should not to belive."

The Bible is my authority. My "opinions" don't count, but what God's word says does. Jesus said,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John:14:6
God is our Creator, and ultimately, each person answers to Him.

There's so much that I would love to share with you, but one blog comment is not long enough. I'm praying for you Sofia.

Love,
Tracy

Sofia said...

thank you tracy for your time to answer me!

you're right about my age, i'm only 18 years old and i know that i don't have much life experience to say anything. i just wanted to share you my opinion about this as much as it was possible considering that i'm only studing english.

i still don't agree with you about many things but that's quite fine for me. i mean my mother is now almost 60 and she is glowing from happines! she has been baptized as a baby but never really raised to a faith, she resigned (hope that was a right word) from church with my father when they were young simply because they didn't belive in god. she has always been very satisfied about her decision. i have never been a member of any church. my parents and school have taught me something about all the biggest religions in the world but i never felt any of them as my own. don't get me wrong, i would like to belive in something greater and i found an idea about life after death very comforting but i just don't belive in it. i belive that with my decisions i can make my life happy, of course it can't always be that, and after that i just stop existing.

okey my meaning was not to write you a book about my family but to thank you about your answer and blog. i have found a very dear hobby of mine, soapmakeing, from your blog! and i just generaly enjoy to read about your life and lovely family because it's so different than my life. america is so different than finland, and i don't mean this in any bad way.

i continue to read your blog and who knows, maybe i will comment something also in the future!

-sofia

DianneE said...

Tracy, I enjoyed reading about your encounter with your neighbor that you have shared your faith with in the past.

The Lord may have just sent her your way again to give you another opportunity to witness to her since her circumstances have changed.

Maybe you could make her a cake or some cookies or do something for her to extend your hand of friendship and maybe the Lord would just open the door to give your another chance to talk more with her about Jesus. If her circumstances have changed just maybe she will open her mind to the truth!

Thank you for your willingness to be a good neighbor!

Carolyne said...

I'm so glad to have found your blog through Kelli @ 'there's no place like home'.
Your post on this day was very thought-provoking on many levels. I hope that it not only gave you a great deal to *talk* about with your children but that they will be encouraged to flood this sweet desperate soul with love from them.
Bitterness can be such gradual decent that for an adult to approach her requires too much effort of defense. Children on the other hand, have such a gift of love and acceptance no matter where someone is emotionally, that they can bridge gaps that may take adults years to overcome.
Please let your children bless her, maybe like an 'auntie' or neighborhood 'Gramma' with flowers and stories and pictures and the world from their point of view. As well as getting to know her and making her know she is important. They will learn how to be missionaries where they are; in their world, touching the hurting around them for Jesus' sake.
It may make a difference for Eternity.