If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead – James 2:15-17
Five weeks ago, I was in a bad way. I got laid off and had trouble finding another job. I was getting worried that I would not be able to pay my rent anymore and get evicted. I was all alone here in Canada. My family were all back in Jamaica. Life was extremely hard there so asking them for money was out of the question. My Employment Insurance (EI) was running out. I wasn’t a member of any church so I couldn’t ask a pastor or a minister or a priest to help me.
Time was running out. I didn’t have any food in the apartment and I was hungry. I didn’t have any more money. My EI payments had ended. I still couldn’t find a job and it didn’t help when I got a bad cold and was laid up in bed for several days. I looked terrible because I had lost a considerable amount of weight because all I had at my disposal was a half-empty carton of Orange Juice.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and went to my neighbor whom I knew was a Christian. I always saw her reading a Daily Word or she was always talking to somebody about God. So, if anyone could help me, it would be her.
I left my apartment and went across the hall. After taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door. Hopefully, she was at home. She was. She opened the door and looked at me. “I would invite you in but I have company.”
“It’s all right,” I said. “I hate to do this but I don’t have any choice. Could you lend me some money?”
“What do you need it for?”
“I don’t have any food in my apartment.”
“How much do you need?”
“Twenty would be enough.”
“I’m afraid I only have a $100.”
“Oh. Okay.” Crushed, I said, “Thanks anyway. Sorry to have troubled you. Have a good evening.” I was about to turn away when she caught me by the arm.
“Go and pray to God to help you. He will.”
I didn’t answer. I turned and crossed the carpet and let myself into my apartment. I leaned against the door, feeling very discouraged. I couldn’t believe that my Christian neighbor didn’t help me. Couldn’t she have asked her guests for change for the $100 or didn’t she have any food she could have given me? No, she sent me away empty-handed and with words that couldn’t satisfy my hunger.
I remembered that I had a large bag of potato chips. I went and took it down from the cupboard and put some in plastic lid. I sat at the window and munched on them. I did this again the following day and the next until the bag was finished. Despair settled in again and then there was a knock on my door. I opened it and recognized the woman whom I sometimes saw the Christian woman talking to. She had a shopping cart full of groceries. “May I come in?” she asked, smiling.
I nodded and held the door open for her to come in.
“I’m afraid I bought too many groceries. My son moved out last week so I’m all alone. I bought two of everything. Do you mind helping me go through these bags?”
“Sure.” My heart was racing. This couldn’t be happening. It felt so surreal. Was this God helping me? We went through the bags and when we were done, her groceries were in the bags and in the cart while mine were on the countertop in my kitchen waiting to be packed away. I thanked her profusely as I held the door open for her. “Are you a Christian?” I asked her.
She shook her head. “No, but when I was trying to figure out what to do with the extra groceries, you came to my mind. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that you needed them.”
I watched her hurry down the hallway to the elevator. She lived two floors below me. When I closed my door and went into the kitchen, I put away the groceries, thanking God for His help. It had to be Him. Who else could it be? And what irony. The person who should have helped me but didn’t was a Christian and the person who wasn’t a Christian did. That evening I cooked myself a decent meal and enjoyed it in front of the TV.
After that unexpected blessing, I started to go to the church in my neighborhood–not the same one my neighbor went to, though. The people were warm and welcoming. I started to go to their prayer meetings. I asked my prayer partner to pray that I find a job soon or I would be evicted. A week later, she asked me for my resume. I gave it to her. Another week passed by and then I was called in for an interview. It seems like her sister-in-law was in need of a secretary. I got the job. I thanked God and I thanked my prayer partner.
I don’t have any bitterness toward my neighbor. I am pleasant to her whenever we see each other. I told her that she was right about God helping me. And I know that if she ever came to me for help, I would do whatever I can to help her. Sometimes, I sit in front of the window and have a bowl of potato chips just to remind me of the desperate times and that God will bring us through them–sometimes in ways we don’t expect.
Faith is not just words but actions too. When a person needs your help, help them. It’s possible that God sent them to you.