My friend Virginia grew up in a coal mining town in West Virginia. She showed me pictures of shabby shacks along a narrow road carved into the side of a mountain. “A road and a train track to carry the coal was all we had. That and a church, a school, a few stores and a pharmacy that sold ice cream.” How she longed for a more glamorous life. Her only comforts were family and friends.
She married a coal miner, raised a family—still longing for the “good life.” The children grew up and moved away. Her husband died of black lung disease. As her own health worsened, someone notified her son. He brought her home with him but realized she needed more care than he could provide.
Even though she helped choose a nursing home, she hated it. She felt angry at her husband for dying, and angry at God for letting it all happen. Her only solace lay in corresponding with old friends and family.
One day, checking her calendar, she noted five birthdays of family and friends that month. She had no greeting cards, and no way of buying any. It seemed to her this was the ultimate proof of God’s abandonment. Angry and depressed, she cried out, “God, don’t you even care? Here I am in this place needing five birthday cards, and I can’t even get those!”
The next day, still discouraged, she returned from lunch in the dining hall to find a large envelope from a lady she hadn’t heard from in more than 10 years. The woman had visited a mutual friend who told her that Virginia was in a nursing home and gave the address. “Thought maybe you can use these,” she wrote.
Shivers Just Went Up My Spine
With the letter were five birthday cards and a book of postage stamps. “Shivers just went up my spine,” Virginia told me, “especially when I checked the postmark and saw that they’d been mailed five days earlier—before I knew I needed them!”
She accepted the incident as proof that God had not abandoned her or turned against her. He’d chosen the very thing she’d thought too small to ask of anyone, to demonstrate that the Creator and Lord of the Universe does care and understand the deepest longings and needs of our hearts.
That event did not take away all Virginia’s loneliness or solve her physical problems. But it helped her accept her situation better just by realizing that God knows her needs and wants even before she recognizes them herself.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear,” (Isaiah 65:24).
Christian writer, Ellen White, counsels: “Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children” (Steps to Christ, p. 100).