Bill


Why do bad things happen to good people?

People who are strong in faith will tell you there is always a purpose but when the bad is happening to you it’s sometimes hard to see the good.

A couple of months ago my wife and I had a huge fall out. I was on the point of walking away even though I had nowhere to go! It was a horrible, traumatic time and I am so glad we sorted it out. Where was the good in that? Well …

I had an appointment in a neighbouring town but arrived way too early. So I decided to walk along the shorefront. It was a dismal day. The sky was full of rain. But I had a new waterproof coat and a warm home to go back to. I reckoned I could enjoy the weather for a while.

Almost immediately I met someone who wasn’t so lucky. He had swept back salt ’n’ pepper hair, a bushy grey beard, sky blue eyes – and he was wet to the bone!

“Could you do me a favour?” He held his hand out.

“Probably not,” I replied. Things had been very tight financially and for the past fortnight I had been telling the family we can’t do this and we can’t afford that.

“I’ve been trying to chase up the price of a beer.”

Well, I admired his honesty. If I’d been living on the streets like he obviously was a beer might be important to me too. I had a single, solitary coin in my pocket.

“Here,” I said. “I hope it helps.”

He could hardly take it for shivering. He explained his sleeping bag had been soaked the night before – while he was in it – and he hadn’t been able to get dry since.

“It’s rough,” I sympathised.

“It’s an easy situation to get into,” he added. “Just fall out with your wife and have nowhere else to go. Know what mean?”

It was like a slap! Oh, boy, did I know what he meant!

I wanted to help and a nagging little voice told me to take off my coat and give it to him. But I’m not THAT good. Yet. “I can do better,” I told myself.

I turned him around and headed into town. On the way he talked. He told me he was ex-army and then had been a horse trainer. All in another life. But mostly he wanted to tell me about all the friends he’d made recently.

Days were long on the streets but the ladies in one charity shop gave him books to keep his mind occupied. Then they changed them when he was finished. Free of charge. Another friend worked in a marina that had a toilet block for the sailors. He was allowed to shower there. And there was a café where he sometimes got left-over food.

I stopped at the cash point and without looking to see how far in the red I was I stretched my overdraft.

We went to a charity shop and there just happened to be a beautiful second hand waxed jacket. The kind farmers and country folk wear to keep the weather out. It fit perfectly at a knock-down price. Exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it. (Funny how that works, isn’t it?)

He was hobbling because of blisters on his feet. Probably cause by wearing shoes too small for him. He had cut them down the sides to make them fit.

I bought him shoes that fit without surgery.

Before we went our separate ways I bought him a hot breakfast. Then I asked his name.

“Bill … and …” I could tell he was feeling a little emotional.

“David,” I said, closing off any need for thanks. I shook his hand, slapped his shoulder and wished him better days. As he walked away the last thing Bill said to me was, “It’s wonderful where the help comes from.”

It is wonderful, Bill. But not at all mysterious. It comes from God. Like the rest of your friends I am working for Him. And He makes sure we get all the training we need beforehand.

David McLaughlan david.mclaughlan@btinternet.com

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