There’s a beautiful batch of snowflakes filtering down outside my window this afternoon. They make me unabashedly happy. Big, glorious flakes of snow aren’t entirely common for my part of Kansas. It’s a bit like living in a snowglobe. The snow spells out Christmas, Advent, and cozy all swirled together.
As I’m contemplating hope during this December, I was drawn to events in my own life and how much we have a need for hope.
Early this morning, while dark still shrouded the windows, I’d sat in the glow of my Christmas tree and listened to hope-filled words from The Quiet Collection by Emily P. Freeman.
Pain is a rhythm I find too familiar in my days, my back, foot, and my body. Chronic pain does have a way of connecting you with other people and the chronic conditions in their lives. Therein lies one of the blessings found in the hard.
For over seven years, back pain has been a familiar comrade. Way too familiar to my way of thinking.
Five years ago this December, I had a microdiscectomy to remove a tiny fragment broken off of the disc in my low back. Tiny can still equate much trouble. This fragment was prone to move and was causing damage and much pain by pressing on my sciatic nerve. Much like a splinter or a speck in our eye, a small piece where it should not be will become a very large aggravation.
In hindsight, I’m struck by how gradually something can take shape over time, progressively worsening without a person realizing it.
This very much happened to me and it has only been in a slow recovery process that I’ve seen how badly my back bothered me and how it deeply impacted all areas of my life. Increasing pain, a foot that didn’t lift all the way, and numbness in my foot and toes.
Here’s the thing. Going back wouldn’t change things much, I don’t believe. Not unless I could take my knowledge from now back along with me.
It’s hard to see a situation when we’re burrowed right in the midst of it.
Yet, would we ever grapple with the hard, wrestle with the fear, or march steadfastly on, without incredible hope?
Before I had a diagnosis and a scheduled surgery, I hoped my back would heal. I prayed. I thought perhaps a series of chiropractor treatments would set me on the road to recovery. I hoped my pain would ease and I could move more freely. I continued to pray. I wept tears. Some days were long and discouraging and hope was very invisible. Other days I could steadfastly keep my eyes on hope.
Life will not always be as it is today.
I found this sentence and it is powerful to me. It’s hope in the hard days and a call to gratitude in the happy.
As time ticked and hope waned, I found hope in knowing Jesus was with me, come what may. He really was. He didn’t miss my tears. He was more aware of my pain than I was.
Did it make it automatically easy? It didn’t.
It did, however, highlight hope. I would win either way.
I’m at a five-year milestone of my surgery.
In the Bible, I love the touchstones of remembrance and the intentional setting of actual stones to remind and recall all God had done.
My touchstone today is only figurative, but it definitely has hope engraved in it.
Hope has been long in coming.
Truth? I finally feel here today, what I really hoped I’d feel at the one year anniversary of my surgery. More truth? It was a hopeful expectation. I really expected improvement and healing to happen So Much Faster.
I am grateful. It’s not been fun. I’ve struggled through some really, really dark days.
Yet, there are literally millions of people who have suffered much, much harder health challenges than I’ve ever begun to know.
Hope is always worth holding on to. It is a gift from God to us. Will we always receive our hopes here on earth? We won’t. Not exactly as we would write the script. Certainly, not every single time. But I wonder if sometimes I’ve grown oblivious to all the ways my hopes have been fulfilled? The answers right in front of me, but I miss it because it’s turned counterclockwise from what I’m looking for?
Do I notice the lessons I can learn in the waiting, in the hoping? Could I cling more steadfastly to the hope I have beyond this earth, outside of these bones and flesh?
Even so come, Lord Jesus!
1 Corinthians 15:19-28
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.