My first encounter with Nadia was seven years ago, when a friend brought her to our home at 10 o’clock one night. Her skin was sallow; her eyes sunken and empty; her hair, obviously cared for meticulously at one time, was now dry and stringy; and her clothes, facial expressions, and body language told us, even before she said a word, that she had lost hope.
I learned that only a year earlier, Nadia had been the envy of many women in her neighborhood: beautiful, of good social standing, a wife of 30 years and the “perfect” mother of two daughters, living in a large attractive house, and hosting parties galore for her friends. But this was all far behind as Nadia sat in our living room holding tightly to her friend’s hand. Life had taken a U-turn; her husband had divorced her, and their joint business was facing bankruptcy. The mortgage payments on the family house hadn’t been paid for several months, and it was about to be repossessed.
Nadia’s husband even tried to have her declared mentally ill, so that he would have sole control of the property and business. The breakdown of her marriage caused her to feel like her world was falling apart, and even her physical health took a nosedive, culminating in a recent heart attack. To make matters worse, most of her friends were suddenly busy and hard to reach.
Nadia had only gained a casual faith from her traditional upbringing, leaving her with the vague idea of a God “somewhere far away,” as she put it. However, she now realized that she wouldn’t be able to overcome the current crises without making Him a much more real part of her life. Our first prayer together lifted her spirits a little, and by the end of our conversation, she’d committed to attending regular Bible studies.
In the months to come, she gained a foundation in prayer and faith, to where she could find answers on her own to her doubts, sad thoughts, and desperate longings. Progress was slow, and some days were better than others. There were a couple of years of ups and downs, but Nadia never lost hope and kept forging steadily ahead toward inner healing and a better future.
Over time, Nadia regained the will to live, to work, to take care of her family, to be a good example to her daughters. While others in her circle thought that what had happened to her was a tragedy, she now considered it another example of how God can turn all things to good in our lives,1 knowing that without that deep crisis of the soul and destruction of her former world, she would not have come to truly understand God’s love for her or found the real meaning of her life. She reorganized her priorities in a new way: Now Jesus came first.
Nadia’s financial and housing problems are still unresolved. Seven years later, the legal battle to keep her home is still ongoing, and she survives on a small pension, complemented by occasional part-time work. Though her own finances are tight, she often volunteers in our association’s projects and even takes part in our clown therapy program.
Most importantly, Nadia is herself better equipped to face whatever troubles life may deliver. She’s lost her fear of loss, because she knows that the One who took her through the greatest crisis of her life will never abandon her. Like a bird nestled firmly in God’s hands, she looks down on the problems of life, and they don’t seem as earth shaking as they once did. Like King David, she says with a smile, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”2