I sang as I trudged across an icy, deserted church parking lot, an all-too-common sight since COVID-19 showed up and lockdowns followed. I sang, not loudly—at least I didn’t think anyone could hear me: “Come, thou Fount, come, thou King,” and on and on. Lost in thought, I wasn’t concerned whether or not I sang the correct lyrics. It wasn’t until later, after my encounter with the letter carrier and when I looked up the lyrics, that I realized I did get the words wrong. Instead of “Hear your bride,” I sang, “Hear our cry, to you we sing. Come, thou Fount of our blessing.”
Maybe the words were incorrect, but they were the right words for me. I was filled with a cry for a man in our church family who was sick with COVID-19 and pneumonia and was on a ventilator. I also was filled with soul-sick sorrow for all the elderly people dying of COVID in long-term care, and pained because every day seemed to be an interminable avalanche of bad news. And then there was the personal stuff, such as not being able to see my kids and grandkids who live far away and not being able to worship in person or visit friends.
I glanced up and saw a letter carrier standing by the open trunk of her car, where she was getting her mail bag sorted out. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me, smiled, and said, “That sounded lovely. What were you singing?”
I was taken aback, and without giving it another thought, I started to sing. Of course, I sang the wrong words, but they were the right words for me: “Come, thou Fount, come, thou King; Come, thou precious Prince of Peace. Hear our cry.” That’s as far as I got before the tears welled up, and I finished off with a weak, but sincere, “To you we sing. Come, thou Fount of our blessing.” When I finished singing to the letter carrier in the most unlikely setting of an icy church parking lot during a pandemic, she reached out her arms to me in a virtual hug, and I told her that God is so good no matter what is happening in the world. Her smile told me she was open to that truth.
I said goodbye, dried my tears on my mitten, and continued my walk, filled with a burst of joy and amazement at the divine, delightful absurdity of what had happened. Had I just sung a song of faith to a letter carrier I didn’t know and probably would never meet again? In my inner being, I heard the Holy Spirit speak: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). The reason for my hope—even during a pandemic as I mourn for those who are experiencing the loss of health and life, miss family, and ache for the world—is that the Fount of every blessing, the King, the precious Prince of Peace, hears our cry, hears his bride, and promises to never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6).