Read John 15:13; Matthew 28:20; Proverbs 18:24
Not long ago, there was a news story about an older lady who died alone in her home. Sadly, she was not missed for many months. When it was finally discovered that she had passed away, hundreds of pages of memoirs were found in her home detailing how lonely her life was. Many people know the heartache of loneliness, especially during Christmas. I wrote the following short story to depict what would happen if just one person had intervened in this woman’s life. Let this Advent season be a time when we connect with those who are alone, when we bring the light of Jesus into a lonely life.
Jessica watched as the elderly lady made her way out of the store, her back bent over her cane, her feet shuffling uncertainly, her shoulders hunched against the cold December wind. On her other arm hung her small purse and a bag with enough groceries for one day. For one person.
The lady came every day to the small grocery shop where Jessica had worked for the past few months. Most days, she asked for her purchases to be charged to her store account. Each month, on or after the 5th, she would pay her bill, counting out cash and coins with precision, never arguing the balance.
For Jessica, the shop was a lifesaver after her son had left for college in Europe and her husband had packed up and left her for a new life in a new place with a new woman. She didn’t need the job for the money- her husband (former husband, that is) made sure of that at least. No, she needed the job to still the panic that came when she woke up in a house that felt as if the life had been snuffed out, leaving only a deep aching loneliness behind.
Every day Jessica asked the lady if she needed help getting home, and every day the lady thanked her but, no. She would be fine. But her smile was sad and filled with the look of defeat that Jessica recognized from her own mirror. Every evening Jessica thought about the woman, and wished that she had insisted on seeing her home. The woman’s loneliness scared her. “This could be me one day,” she thought to herself.
Later that day, as Jessica was closing the register, the shop’s ledger was open to the woman’s account, showing her name and address. On a whim, Jessica jotted down the address and shoved it in her pocket.
As she waited for her car’s engine to warm up, Jessica pulled the slip of paper from her pocket and looked at it. She recognized the street. Making up her mind was difficult. Since her husband left, the sense of rejection was too fresh to make anything like this easy. She recognized the Lord’s prompting in her heart, though, urging her on. Before she knew it she was knocking on the door at 27 West St.
She waited for a few moments, but the lady didn’t answer. Just as Jessica was getting ready to walk away, she heard a faint call from the back of the house. Jessica hurried through the gate beside the porch, and was about to knock on the back door, when, through the window she saw the elderly lady lying on the floor, her strength clearly almost gone, her wide, panicked eyes staring expectantly at Jessica.
Later, as the lady was being tenderly wrapped up on a gurney, being made ready for a trip to the hospital, she reached for Jessica’s hand. Quietly she spoke, “I had resigned myself that tonight I would die alone on the floor of my kitchen. And as I lay there, I sang and I prayed. I started praying for Jesus to stay close by my side through this frightening night. And He did. He sent you.”