Advent Week 1: Hope

By Stephanie Elliott | December 3, 2023  |  Return to Blog  

Meeting Melda

I once met a woman who spent her days on the floor. In a remote African village, I walked dirt roads through thick paths overgrown with bushes to find her home. When I walked into the house, the room filled with songs in a language that wasn’t mine. Following the music to the kitchen, my gaze shifted downward, and I found the source of joy sitting on the tile floor on blankets. The woman heard me coming and was overwhelmed with praise. She yelled and clapped and sang and talked. I didn’t understand her words, but joy and gratitude are a universal language. I dropped to the floor with her. Her name is Melda, and she is hopeful.

Melda wasn’t sure why she couldn’t walk anymore and why only one of her arms was mobile. She said it felt like electricity coursed through her body and she was consequently paralyzed. Through a translator, she told me she missed her cooking days. Before her life on the floor, she loved to cook. She said she was hopeful because God had favored her and sent me to meet her. I didn’t tell her about Jesus; she knew Him. I didn’t invite her to surrender her life and follow Him; she was His. I didn’t need to tell her she was not forgotten; she was content sitting and raising her one working limb to praise her Savior.

"She’s finally outside and moving. She is a happy woman."

Hope and Healing

I gave Melda a Bible and prayed for God to miraculously heal her. I prayed to Jehovah Rapha. I prayed if He healed her, it would be so her village would know of a loving and powerful God. And I prayed if He didn’t heal her, she would not lose hope and know He is still faithful. I prayed He would use her to transform her village through a radical Gospel. I prayed that her praise would permeate the walls of her house and radiate into the village so people could hear about the Jesus who gives joy and hope despite circumstances.

I left that day blessed and burdened. Blessed because her joy and hope inspired me and burdened because I wanted to help. I knew God could heal her. I also knew that healing may look different than, Rise up and walk (Acts 3:6). Wheelchairs were available in Kampala – a ten-hour drive from her home. I gave a friend in Uganda money and hoped she could find a way to bring Melda mobility. I didn’t have expectations, but I had hope for a miracle. Three months later, I received a picture and text: "The old lady wanted to thank you for her chair. She’s finally outside and moving. She is a happy woman."

The Catalyst that Fuels

I’m not immobile on the kitchen floor like Melda was, but I have felt bound. There are days and months when I can't seem to mentally get up. I go to work and do responsible adult things, but I sit in my head. Melda had no choice but to live surrounded by her walls, but I build mine like a contractor. People ask me to come out to play. Sorry, I can’t make it today. I’m busy (hanging more drywall in my room). The plastered walls shield me, and I choose to sit on the floor like Melda once had to. But Melda and I have more in common than the floor and a room – our common ground is hope. We love our Jesus and hope in Him through it all.

I get up because I know that hope isn’t a feeling. It’s the foundational knowledge that Jesus is King. Tangible hope is peppered throughout our lives. It’s the life-saving phone call, the money that arrives before the power is shut off, or the wheelchair delivered to a village door. Jesus is in those things. And when those things don’t come, we don’t lose hope because hope is in Jesus. Hope in Jesus douses defeat. It’s the catalyst that fuels the flames of faith; the relentless driving force that lifts our one working limb to praise our Savior despite our circumstances. Hope is being content on the floor because Jesus is a close friend. Then, hope is getting up off the floor because Jesus is King.