By Shelley McEwan
Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.
"Love is patient, love is kind.... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13:4,7). Our Gran Lindsay, who lives in Burlington, Ontario, has this scripture printed on a magnet on her fridge. To visitors it is only a magnet; to our family it is a gentle reminder of a cherished family story.
It all began with a message in the town newspaper: "For Lindsay — Darling, I am well. Hope you and the children are fine." The year was 1943. A ham radio operator had picked up the fragmented message and directed it to the small-town newspaper.
Martha Lindsay had waited thirteen long months for word from the Red Cross that her husband, William Lindsay, had survived the sinking of the HMS Exeter on March 1, 1942. She did her best to stay busy with the children, always keeping William in her prayers. One afternoon, the Red Cross finally contacted her with the news that she had been praying for — a William Lindsay had been located and was currently a prisoner of war.
Martha's heart soared: William was alive! She had never given up hope. The Red Cross told Martha to begin writing messages to William — short messages, no more than twenty-five words, on a plain, white postcard — and forwarding them to Geneva. From there, the Red Cross would try to get the postcards to William.
Only one postcard a month was permitted. Martha began by telling William about the antics of their children, Billy and Catherine, who had been babies the last time he saw them. She also did her best to express her love and devotion to her husband on the small, white postcards. In just twenty-five words, she kept reminding him that he was loved. Two and a half agonizing years came and went without receiving an answer from William, but Martha's faith and hope never faltered.
One September morning in 1945, as Martha was getting ready to take the children to school, the mail carrier delivered a small scrap of paper through the mail slot. It had no envelope and no stamp. As she turned the paper over her heart began to pound. Soon her eyes filled with tears as she recognized William's handwriting: "Martha, I've been released. I'm coming home."
On a beautiful day in October 1945, William Lindsay returned home to his family. After their tears and joy had subsided, Martha asked William if he had received her cards. Sadly, she learned that not one card had found its way to him in the prisoner-of-war camp.
Shortly after William's return home, there was a knock at the door one day. Martha answered and found a young sailor standing in the doorway.
"Excuse me, are you Martha Lindsay?" he asked.
"Yes I am," she replied.
"Was your husband a prisoner of war?"
"Yes," she whispered.
With tears in his eyes, he introduced himself. "My name is William Lindsay. I was a prisoner of war, too." He reached into his pocket and, very gently, handed her thirty tiny white postcards tied in a ribbon.
"I received one of these every month," the sailor told her. "They gave me the hope that helped me to survive. From the bottom of my heart I thank you."
Martha just as gently placed the cards back in his hands, and he held them to his heart.
"Love is patient, love is kind.... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4,7).