What does it take to have bold hope in the midst of suffering? Lisa shares the latest on her health challenges and that devotionals are back!
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).
Bold: showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.
Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Bold hope: Taking a risk–confidently and courageously–to expect and desire something to happen.
Earlier this week I was explaining to my mom how I knew it would be at least a few weeks before my life had any semblance of normalcy. “I’m not trying to be negative,” I explained. “But it is going to take time. As my blood count increases, my inflammation and pain will also increase since I can no longer take my anti-inflammatories.”
“You aren’t being negative,” she responded. “You are being realistic.”
The last two weeks have been a new chapter in life and I will likely continue to feel in the dark about what my future holds until I speak with my doctors later this week. I just made a grocery list of 5 items for my husband to purchase–and that activity has made me want to crawl back into bed. For 2 weeks I have showered and put on clean pajamas. Anything else has required energy I don’t have.
Your prayers during my time in the hospital covered me.
It was a scary process: ending up in ER to discover my blood count was 6.0 (less than half the normal red blood cell count). Bursting a vein while going through the CAT scan machine because I couldn’t unbend my deformed arm–and being yelled at by the technician, “Unbend your arm and don’t move!”
I heard from hospital staff for three days what an “event” it was that I broke out in a few layers of hives during the first of my 3 blood transfusions.
To be honest, I felt a bit numb through it all–I emotionally disconnected myself since I had no power. And yet, God used that un-feeling to give me peace. It was as if He said, “Yep, it is NOT going to be fun. But I’ve got it covered. Now, jump in that wheelchair to go get the ultrasound.”
I didn’t feel a sense of what the end result would be. I actually didn‘t think, “I will be fine.” I just knew that I was not in control of it–God was. I will confess, however, that I did spend some time pondering how if I died, people would find my house so messy at the moment. I hadn’t been able to pick up something off the kitchen counter in over a week.
But having a sense of humor was easier to deal with than the other “what ifs.”
Thank you for being so understanding during the last two weeks while waiting for the devotionals to resume. Thanks for offering emails of encouragement, prayers, and sharing your stories. I have not responded to hardly any emails since I could barely move my fingers to type, but I did read every single one and asked God to watch over so many of you who are living such challenging lives right now.
A friend mentioned this verse to me yesterday. It is one of my favorites–about bold hope. I normally cling to it, proclaim it, live it! “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).
But . . . I don’t feel very bold at the moment.
Taking a risk–confidently and courageously–with hope that God will do something big, is too big of step for me today. I want to stay in my safe comfortable place of reasonable, realistic expectations.
I am not praying for miracles or success stories. I am too tired to go through the emotions of being disappointed again. Scripture tells us that hope will not disappoint. How can this be true? It is the difference between putting our hope in what God can do and who God is.
When I place my hope (bold or otherwise) in what I claim God can do for me, I will likely be disappointed. When I simply place my hope in who God is, I will never be disappointed, because He is who He says He is. He will never change. And part of His identity is my Father, always looking out for my best interests.
A fresh layer of my testimony is going to come out of all of this–but I don’t know when.
I have bold hope because I am going to confidently and courageously believe–even though my belief may be risky–that God is going to do something–something good. Because God is good . . . all the time, right? The hard part is to avoid forcing Him to do it on my timeline (which would be SOON.)
My “and then” list
The last 9 months have held the challenges of a son who I began “emergency homeschooling” (yes, that’s a term), and then a husband who was laid off after 19 years (and still looking for work), and then this new blip on the timeline of my healthcare. And that is just what I am sharing publicly.
This latest event’s story is how at first I thought the fatigue was a side effect to medication . . . and then . . . everyone got scared about my blood count so gave me blood. . . and then I had a reaction to the blood . . . and then they did a procedure to find I had 3 ulcers, one that had bled for 8 days . . . and then I had to go off my anti inflammatories . . . and then (as of today) I found out my other major medication is not in production because there is a shortage of the “active ingredient.”
And the list goes on. (I could keep going but I will spare you.)
Because I know you have these lists too! People say bad things happen in 3s. Oh, if only our lists were only as long as 3, huh?! People with chronic illness are not complicated people–we just have complicated bodies. And it takes a lot of doctors and insurance red tape, and money, and patience to keep up with the lists of what is going wrong at the moment.
And then God . . .
But oh, God finally will step in! At least, that is where my bold hope is to be placed. It doesn’t mean I will win the lottery or even be healed. It doesn’t mean everything will fall into place.
I know God still may throw some more and-then happenings into my life before I get to the end of the season when I can share “and then God . . . ” but for now, I am trying to gracefully accept the challenges He is allowing. Because I could add in “and then God” to each one of those, because I know He never left my side.
I could say today “… and then God allowed my insurance to deny all kinds of things, but thankfully when I called it was supposedly straightened out.” I am less inclined to add God into those parts because I don’t want to give Him a bad reputation of being the cause of it all. But rather, I can find His steady presence through it all.
In this case, the end of my story would be “and then God revealed His purpose and plan . . . ”
I know that these struggles will eventually give me a greater ability to understand the pain people like you go through–things like the fears of financial struggles, the consequences of long term chronic illness, the pain as a parent seeing your child suffer.
During my last breath I will be asking God to keep me around a little longer to share what He has taught me, to perhaps make someone else know they are not alone.
This is why God lets us hurt. This is why He allows the pain.
Because through pain we grow closer to Him–if we choose to. And we increase our ability to look someone in the eye and say, “tell me your story. . . because I have been there and I know you must want to talk.”
This all sounds good, but I am far from perfect.
I am tired of not being able to walk from one room to another without having to sit down and rest. I would so like a cup of coffee, which I am not allowed to drink due to the acid of the beans. I am sick of the medical tests that pass my personal comfort zone. My headaches have caused me to resent every gardener in the neighborhood who seems to be cutting down trees with chainsaws and weed-wacking every piece of grass.
I have fought for four months to lose 16 pounds and I was just put back on a medication that caused me to gain 14 pounds in three months this winter. I am frustrated that my hands may never be without pain again since I can no longer take anti-inflammatories. And this scares me. . . a lot.
I am tired of saying “turn it down!” to my son. I am mad at myself that I have let it bother me that my best friend hasn’t called through any of this except to send one text message that said “praying!” last week. She wouldn’t have even know if I had died.
So you see? I have a loo-o-ong list of things I need to take to God on a daily basis and confess. I feel like I need to be in a constant state of apoligy, “I am sorry. I am so sorry for yelling, for being nit picky, for being resentful, for being ungrateful.”
I am so glad my God gives mercy.
What would we do without His mercy?
Why does He choose to use us when we are such sinners, kicking and screaming even as He tries to give us the education–through experiences–so we can follow His calling –the calling we so begged and prayed for?
If I ask for wisdom can I not expect He will give it to me, but it must be learned through personal struggles? If I ask for a testimony, can I not anticipate that I will have detours into the scary areas of life, so I have something to share and my words have both power and humbleness to talk of His glory
Without the fear or the uncontrollable circumstances, we would have no reason to proclaim we have bold hope. We would have no situation in which courage was necessary. If our life was easy, sharing about God’s goodness and our bold hope would be worthless. Who among us is encouraged by someone who has never suffered?
Thank you for sharing this fifteen minutes with me today, as I share my thoughts and what God is teaching me. I am so honored to be your friend, to have been entrusted with such a ministry as this, as a mentor. I will never meet all the needs, please everyone, or handle every situation with grace, but please know that I am seeking God through it all and entrusting my life, your life, and this ministry fully in His hands. God will take care of the details.
When we can surrender it over to Him, when we can speak faith into the absence of security, when we can life anticipating His works in our wrecks, we can live with bold hope. I have great anticipation of seeing what He will do with you and I . . . and Rest Ministries.
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries. She began it in 1996 and this is the longest she has ever gone since without daily devotionals. Thank you for the grace in waiting patiently and praying her through this. If you have been blessed and are able to make a donation this month, it is very much appreciated. Due to her taking a couple weeks off, our income this month is less than half and we still have bills to pay. Your purchases in our shop and donations keep us going. Thank you–truly.