None of us had any clue of what was about to happen that evening.
Last Wednesday evening, I attended the Ladies’ Bible Study at my church, as I usually do each week. After the lesson many of us lingered, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. We ate cake together. We shared joys and concerns of the previous week. We encouraged each other before saying our goodbyes and heading home.
I chatted briefly with a lovely lady, Mary Lou, about her husband’s upcoming hip replacement surgery. He’d been having nearly unbearable pain for many months, and they were both looking forward to the relief the surgery could bring.
The surgery was scheduled within that coming week, and so Mary Lou explained she’d miss the next several Bible studies while she was caring for her husband during his recovery.
I expressed my good wishes to her for her husband to have a smooth surgery and swift healing, and then we said our goodbyes and went home.
Five hours later Mary Lou’s home burned completely down to the ground.
She and her husband were able to get out safely, but they were in somewhat of a state of shock.
They lost everything. Absolutely nothing was salvageable.
Later, when I saw the pictures of the fire’s aftermath, I was shocked at the total devastation.
The next morning, a group email was sent to alert the ladies in the Bible study group, and it was then we learned more details. Fire officials suspected that faulty electrical wiring had caused the blaze.
Mary Lou and her husband got out literally with only the clothing on their backs. Mary Lou’s glasses and false teeth were lost in the blaze. Fortunately, Mary Lou found her spare pair of glasses in her car.
We’ve learned since then that without her teeth, Mary Lou is struggling to eat and has developed very sore gums and mouth.
At first a distant relative took them in for a few days. Since then Mary Lou and her husband have permanently moved into their small recreational vehicle—not the best option for anyone in the cold Pennsylvania winter.
In my book, Mary Lou is currently suffering Job-like trials. They’ve lost all their possessions, she cannot eat without intense pain, and their living conditions are difficult. Ironically, several months earlier her daughter’s home burned down, and they lost everything too.
Five days after the fire, Mary Lou’s husband did have his hip replacement surgery. Recovering in the cramped conditions of a tiny RV presents additional challenges for him.
There is no satisfying answer as to why this couple must travel through this journey of suffering and loss. My heart breaks for them.
Our church group will do what we can. We will give. We will provide. We will love them. We will support and encourage them and help them to get back up on their feet.
But why, oh why, does this hellacious stuff happen?
Someday we will know all the answers, for we know the One who does.
And for now—that’s enough.