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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

A Tale of Two Women I’ve Never Met (but pray for daily)

Tina is the saddest person I’ve never met.

I’ve known thousands of people over the course of my nearly 68 years, but – hand over heart – I swear I have never, ever talked to a soul as devoid of hope as Tina is.

Tina is her real name, or at least the one she gave host Chris Fabry when she called into his nationally syndicated radio show last week. Chris had invited me on the show to discuss issues affecting older women, and we fielded a variety of calls from listeners around the country during that hour on the air.

Tina phoned in towards the end of the show and explained her situation to Chris, who then asked me to respond. As I listened, tears gathered behind my eyelids. (You can listen to our conversation here.)

Recently retired, Tina is home fulltime with only a pet to keep her company, her “soulmate.” But what she wants is the love of a man and sexual fulfillment, something she’s never experienced.

When Chris mentioned God’s love for her, Tina insisted politely but unequivocally that she wants nothing to do with God or divine love. She is deeply angry at Him, in fact, for not giving her what so many others have. Her life is over, Tina said several times, and if nothing good has happened to her by now, she’s positive it never will. Chris and I offered to send her a book (“I’m visually impaired,”) or an audio resource (“No computer.”)

Tina stated flatly that she has absolutely no desire to reach her next birthday. “I’m old, and I just want to die.”

Tina is 47 years of age.

I am praying for this woman known only to God every day.

But then there is Penny, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. (I have changed her name and location to protect her privacy.)

I’ve never met Penny in person but we have been emailing each other since late last summer. Nearly a decade my junior, Penny was finally discharged after 113 days of hospitalization battling Covid-19, the novel virus that’s become a household word to all of us and a horrific foe to Penny.

The day before she manifested symptoms, a mutual friend gifted Penny with a copy of This Life We Share. It was the only book she had in her bag when she went for a checkup that turned into a nearly four month stay. Our friend texted me a photo of Penny’s hands, pierced with tubes and swaddled with bandages, gripping the book. I wept.

Penny is a recent widow and a gifted professional serving a 25-year vocation she’s loved. She’s been unable to return to work since the virus decimated her body, leaving her immunocompromised. After her release from the hospital, Penny was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, that other dreadful C word.

Penny has become part of our family of readers here at the Ridge. Some months back I wrote about a potentially devastating situation in our family – one I’ve chosen not to elaborate on to guard the privacy of our children as the outcome remains uncertain.

Many of you commented, and I am grateful for each loving response and offer of intercession. But it was Penny’s note, sent to me directly, that particularly gripped my heart.

I share it here with her permission:

“I was at an all-time low a few weeks ago. thinking I just can’t go through anymore of this, spend more time in the hospital than at home, missing my dear husband and not wanting to be a burden on anyone. I figured it would be easier to just give up and stop all treatments.
“However, your blog arrived when I was contemplating giving up and your faith moved me and i was ashamed of myself for feeling the way I did. It has been a terrible year for me with unrelenting setbacks all along the way, but G, C, and now you joining that “army of intercessors marching through this valley with me” moved me and I realize I do want to be here and I do want to fight, Lord willing!
“I shouldn't still be here, but I am, and God is sparing me for some reason and His angels have been all around me during the different crises I have had this year! You wouldn't believe what has happened to me in the past year, but I’m not going to bother you with it all. Just know that your blog moved me more than you know and made me rethink things.”

Two women. Two beautiful souls whom God loves infinitely.

One difference. Penny has hope fueled by faith. Faith is not optimism. It’s trust in the person of Jesus.

“Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17 NLT

Tina has no hope or faith. Not yet anyway.

Here is what I wish she knew, what I tried to express to her – words faltering – on that radio show.

“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.” - Brennan Manning, All is Grace

This past Saturday, my husband and one of his sisters attended a memorial service for Dan Burgess, their beloved childhood friend who was a gifted composer. The service concluded with one of Danny’s best-known songs, recorded here by Selah.

I know “Penny” will read this post today. These words are for you, friend, and for all who are in a battle.

"When the valley is deep When the mountain is steep When the body is weary When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard When we're battered and scarred When we've spent our resources When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on In Jesus' name, we press on Dear Lord, with the prize, clear before our eyes We find the strength to press on." © Dan Burgess

Press on, friend, and please know you are not alone in the fight.

Copyright 2021, Maggie Wallem Rowe



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