In His arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.~Josheph M. Scriven
I looked out the front window. Rain pelted the glass in noisy splotches. I was dressed for a walk, but decided I'd wait for the downpour to subside. I flipped on the TV and found Dr. Phil. A tall, tanned handsome gentleman, maybe sixtyish, appeared as his guest. The man wanted Dr. Phil's help in bringing his girlfriend home from Amsterdam. Apparently she was stuck there in some type of passport debacle. The man was convinced she was ready to marry him, if she could only get to the United States. The desperate gentleman stated he had already spent over $200,000 attempting to help her. His mother, eightyish, (also a guest on the show) had even taken money out of her 401K to help the stranded woman. Photos of the woman decorated Dr. Phil's set. She was gorgeous--flowing brunette hair and brown eyes, a brilliant smile. The man was besotted. "I talk to her every day. We text all the time. She's the love of my life. I divorced twenty-five years ago, and never thought I'd get married again. I'm ready to sell my house and move to Chicago where she lives. Start a new life. I just need your help, Dr. Phil, to get her back to the states."
But, of course, all the while you're watching, you know the situation is a scam--this man and his mother hoping against hope that all will be well when Dr. Phil puts his energies to the task. Dr. Phil surely got to work. But instead of finding a woman who coulnd't get home, he proved that the girfriend was really a man who lived in Africa. The woman in the picture was real, but had no idea her identity had been stolen and her photos distributed on the internet. This woman was on the show as well, just as much a victim as the gray-haired sixty-something man. The man's eyes that had been bright and filled with expectation of finding his true love at the beginning of the show, now looked dull and clouded with tears, his lips trembling with sadness as the truth of the scam washed over him. He'd been waiting for a woman to don a bridal gown and march triumphantly into his life, to be his bride. And now he was left without his life's savings and the hope of loving someone, of being loved.
I turned off the television, the sky no longer spilling rain. And as I walked, I reflected that people will do almost anything to feel loved, to be embraced for who they are, for others to woo them with words of affection. To be romanced. To be courted. But love can often fizzle out, even when people are not part of a scam. Or a partner or spouse can leave or die. Then what? What or who do people turn to when the one they love is no longer part of their lives?
My youngest daughter told me she was teaching my granddaughter all four verses of the hymn, What A Friend We Have In Jesus. She said, "The lyrics are like poetry. And all verses point back to the truth that Jesus is a true friend for life. When Lilly has disappointments and grief in her life, she can always go back to this hymn." My daughter then shared that the author of the hymn had great sadness and loss in his life. The night before he was to be married, his bride-to-be drowned. He moved on and fell in love again. But after only a few months of marriage, his wife died. He wrote the hymn after her death, stating that the faithfulness and love of Jesus brought him comfort like nothing or no one else.
I've thought about this concept today as I mourn the death of a good friend who died last night. She would have been ninety-two next week if she had lived. We became friends about fifteen years ago. We were both married to Italian men, although her husband had died years ago. But that wasn't our sole connection. Irene was interested in all kinds of subjects--politics, psychology, relationships, communication--nothing was off the table for her. She was a voracious reader and provided valuable feedback to me over the years regarding my writing. How I will miss not being able to send her rough drafts of my work. How I will miss not looking into her alert, blue eyes and feeling her love for me shine through. In some ways I feel like the gentleman on the Dr. Phil show, the realization of the loss palpable, surreal. Yet I do know the One who can help assuage my grief. I do know the One whose constancy and love never fails. I can find a solace there.