When I say grace before a meal I usually thank God for the bounty He bestows on our family before asking Him to comfort those who are suffering, hungry, or discouraged. But last week I found myself quite unexpectedly among those in need.
My husband has suffered for many months from contiguous attacks of a rare disease. The attacks function like a midevil device applying agonizing pressure to his organs. In February the clinic where he was long a patient refused him care, a disheartening (not to mention illegal and unethical) decision that I surmised derived from budget cuts–his complex disease requires more time and effort than most routine maladies. Frantically I phoned a dozen doctors, only to be told that without insurance, my husband was not welcome. Desperate, I contacted an organization which advocates for people with the disease and received a referral to a compassionate local doctor. Under the doctor’s care my husband showed incremental improvement until other stresses intervened.
Our monetary reserves were razed by the doctor’s visit, lab tests, and medication, along with my husband’s prolonged inability to work more than a few days per week. To complicate matters, I sustained an injury which necessitated my resignation from my house-cleaning job.
During the month of March my husband and I ate one meal each day. Although hungry we were optimistic that our discomfort would be temporary. But as the weeks passed, the improvements to my husband’s health leveled off. And I grew weak. We ate increasingly sparsely, dipping into coins we had saved for years, careful to set aside enough each day to feed our son and pay his fare to and from school.
One afternoon a knock came on our door. A neighbor looking lovely in church attire virtually sang, “I’m delivering bread to people in need. I’m at the end of my route and have lots left. I was wondering if you might be able to use a loaf?” My eyes filled with tears as she filled my arms with bread. My husband and I fell to our knees. The loaves sustained us for three more weeks before my cognitive functioning dimished to a point where I could no longer force myself to concentrate. I remember giving up. And drifting. I remember watching my husband sleep for many, many hours. I remember fearing for him.
I called our assistant pastor. “I need some guidance,” I said.
“Okay,” he replied. And sent a box of food.
When I say grace before a meal I ask God to comfort those who are suffering, hungry or discouraged. And I thank Him for our bounty. Our trials are not nearly not ended. But God has blessed us with our daily bread.