“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.”
Last night I was reading of a young girl who walked around with a bag of pennies and dropped them randomly for people to find. When someone asked her why she did it, her reply was just as candid as it was profound: “I want everyone to feel lucky today.”
Reading that story made me smile, and it took me back to a few years ago when, just for the fun of it, I wrote down the words “I believe” on a whole bunch of sticky notes and left them in different places I went—doctor’s office, grocery store, post office. I don’t know what, if anything, happened to those notes, but I know that one of them made a difference in one person’s life. This particular day, I had stopped by a drugstore near my house at the time, and dropped a few of the notes here and there, without paying attention where I left them. Since I went to this store quite often, and was pretty much familiar with most of the people who worked there, I noticed one day, a couple of months later, that I hadn’t seen one of them for a while; I inquired at the cash register, and I was told that she had left.
A few more months passed, and fate allowed me to run into this young lady one evening at the grocery store. She looked radiant and recognized me immediately. I asked her how life was treating her and she replied that she had never been so happy—her husband had gone back to work after recovering from a terrible accident, and she was back in school to finish her degree which she had to abandon when he no longer could financially provide for the two of them. After his accident, he could not work for several weeks, and they had fallen behind with their bills. If that wasn’t enough, her own health was not good, and her diabetes—a condition she was diagnosed with since her teen years—had taken a turn for the worse.
She told me that one day, a few months before, she had gone to work feeling particularly depressed; everything in her world seemed to have lost its colors and she could not see any light at the end of the tunnel she was walking through. Until she saw a bright yellow sticky note near a pile of sweaters stacked on a sale table. “It was as if in that moment God was nudging me to go on when I felt I couldn’t walk any more” she said, “those two little words—I believe—stared me down and I suddenly knew it would all pass.” After finding the note, her attitude changed, and she took each obstacle not as a defeat but as a test to her faith. She focused on the good things she had in her life—a loving husband, a good manager who allowed her to stay home when her husband needed her, and the fact that despite everything, they had enough money to live on. When her husband went for a check-up a couple of weeks later, his doctor was amazed at his progress, and within a few more weeks he was able to work again. Her own blood sugar was back under control as well.
When we think of helping someone, the first thing that comes to mind is that we don’t have enough money to share with others, but physical outreach isn’t the only way to help our fellow humans. Everyone is rich enough to share a kind word, or to give a gift of hope when others can no longer find it for themselves. Even a penny, or a little sticky note, can bring light where there is only darkness.