“Eat something!” Those words rang through my head while I sat in the dining room in shock. I had just gotten home and I am not sure how long I sat in the chair and stared at nothing. I was broken, no… I was shattered! My heart – already broken by my wife’s ongoing relationship with an old high school crush, was lying in pieces on the floor mixed with the shards of my dreams.
I had been in Chicago on a business trip that day. After my meeting I checked my email and saw an alert from my credit card being near the limit. Odd, I should have thousands available. I am the only one who uses that account and it is for business travel. I looked at the details of the account and when I saw it I said aloud “What have you done…what have you done?” There was a charge for thousands to a lawyer. I could think of only one reason for that to be there.
I called my wife, texted her to call me…nothing. I called home…nothing. I called my neighbor and swung by. Both the minivan and the 15-passenger van were gone. The dog was gone! Still no response from my wife. I had to face reality but my mind just could not get a grip on it.
My wife had left me and taken the children. On autopilot, I got into the rental and drove for six hours straight. I don’t remember much about that trip. I mostly just let my body get me home while my mind refused to accept the new reality.
I arrived home to a dark, empty house and a vague note that she and the kids were somewhere safe, she needed time and space, and would be in contact soon. She said that she had arranged someone to care for the farm animals twice a day and had put a food tablet in the fish tank. The cat was gone too (otherwise the cat and the fish may have taken care of each other I suppose).
I sat in a chair and finally broke. I wept like never before, then I just sat… numb. I was already sick. I had a sore throat and fever that had started before my trip. I had been up since 5 a.m. and was near collapse. My body and my mind were on overload and I was not sure which was about to give up first.
I would have sat all night if I had not heard the words in my head. “Eat something.” It seemed so dumb. Eat? How? Better yet, why, why would I eat? Why bother to do something so mundane when my entire world was a charred smoking crater? “Eat something!” it came again, more insistent.
“Fine.” Numb, shaky, and weak, I staggered into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. There on the middle shelf, was the large container with almost two gallons of my wife’s amazing chicken noodle soup. She had made a huge pot of it the night before and had made an odd fuss about making sure that I put it in the refrigerator as soon as it cooled. I did not think anything of it then, but it came back now.
I put some in a bowl and ate it. I don’t remember anything after that. The next day was no better. Still in shock, I somehow made it through the day and had forgotten to eat anything, so as I sat and chased my thoughts in circles, I heard, “Eat something.” More familiar now, I knew what to do. I staggered on into the kitchen again and ate more soup. Then slept.
I went to the doctor on the following day, got medicine and then ate more soup, slept, cried, shouted at God, at my wife, at my situation, at the missing cat (not sure why really, he just got some of my venting). Over the weekend that followed, my heart grieved, my body healed…I ate the soup.
I ate the soup until it was gone. As I finished the last bowl, I got up, and began cleaning the house, I made a grocery list, I stopped yelling at the missing cat, at God, at my wife. I shaved, I began to live again… even if only for a few minutes at a time between outbursts of grief.
I went to church. I talked to friends. I thanked God for the soup, for my children, for my life, and for my wife who – even as she planned to leave me, divorce me and take the children – gave me one last gift, made with her own hands. I did not actually thank Him for the cat… yet.
I don’t know why this memory hit me so hard this evening, more than two months past those bitter days, but I was reading 1 Kings 19:4-8. While reading this passage, I stopped and wept again. This time they were tears of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. I praised God for His gentle loving-kindness and care for me that He provided exactly what I needed, when I needed it, using the loving hands of my own bride to give it to me, even as she left me.
My situation isn’t resolved. I still miss my children; I still miss my wife, but I am learning to leave these things in His hands. God is so good! He cares about us more than we can even imagine. He is a good Father who delights in every detail of our lives. He provides even the mundane things like food for a sick and broken husband in the most incredibly beautiful way. Take the time to stop and enjoy these amazing moments in your trial where God shows His love for us. Share them with others and remember that while this road we travel now is painful and difficult, there are moments of sweetness if you look for them.
Oh, I’m starting to miss the cat.
…while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. 1 Kings 19:4-8a
David in Ohio