One bright morning several years ago, I hurried around the kitchen with a baby on my hip while the three older kids ate their breakfast discussing their backyard plans for the day when the phone rang.
I picked up the phone and heard my husband’s much too controlled voice say, “Well, I had my appointment with the liver specialist today.” “And?” I replied cautiously quickly growing concerned. “The good news is that I am in a really great place for a liver transplant. The bad news is that I may need one,” he said way too casually.
Now, if you knew that something was wrong with your husband’s liver, this would be great news. However, up until this point, we only knew he had strange liver numbers and had for years. We never thought twice about it because many of his family members did. He only went to the liver specialist because our general practitioner thought it was a good thing to do as a precaution.
He continued, “I have Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency which causes non-alcoholics cirrhosis and non-smoker’s emphysema. The doctor said it looks like I am in the beginning stages of cirrhosis. My lungs may be affected as well. If that is the case, it will be much more serious.” He was 30 years old.
My mind would not process what he was saying and everything went into slow motion. We had just regained our footing after a series of devastating events including having a stillborn daughter. Numb, I went through the rest of my day. It would be six weeks of testing and waiting for results before we would know what exactly what we were dealing with. I had seen God walk us through many things, but with this news I was doubting God’s trustworthiness.
That day began a six week process of God repositioning my hope. I had my hope all wrapped up in the wrong things. When our hope is dependent on our circumstances we will not be anchored when difficulties come.
During those six weeks, I would sense Him asking at all hours of the day and even in the middle of the night, “Am I enough?” At first, my honest answer was, “No. No, You are not at all.” I knew the church answer, but church answers weren’t working. I knew if God was asking, He already knew the answer and it was pointless to give the ‘right’ one.
After a couple of weeks, I opened my heart a tiny bit and in response to the constant question and with what little trust I had at the time I said, “You’re not, but I want you to be.” I at least was open to the possibility that somehow God could be enough even in the unthinkable of possibility of losing John or going through very difficult health issues.
God began to shift my hope from having a healthy family and a long marriage to John until we are old to Him. He reminded me of the things He had walked us through and how He had filled every single empty place. By the end of the sixth week, I was able to say with confidence, “You are enough,” even though I still didn’t know what the future held.
Thankfully and miraculously, there has been no progression of the disease in seven years and his lungs are not affected at all at this point. The prognosis for him is very good even though he has one of the worst phenotypes since it is mainly his liver that is affected.
In those six weeks, the Father gave me a beautiful gift. The gift of repositioned hope. My fear of losing John that I had struggled with since the day we married strangely went away and was replaced with a trust in the One Who is good and kind. He does indeed hold our life. It may not always look like we were hoping it would and it may hold some unexpected and painful twists, but He will never leave. His comfort can match our greatest despair. When we imagine the future and the difficulties that may come, we cannot imagine His comfort that will meet us there. In the world we live in – that is comforting. Hope in Him brings joy and peace in difficult circumstances. I’ve seen it in countless beautiful lives around me. Many of whom have experienced pain beyond what I can comprehend. He brings beauty and hope to the most unexpected places and some of the most devastating circumstances.
He has done this over and over in my life. He is building a track record of trust, hope and faith that I am learning to rely on. I can begin to hold on too tightly to things that I am not promised. Things that are shakable, movable and altogether unreliable. That is when fear creeps in because my foundation is not firm, but when He begins to center me on Him, fear is traded out for faith and trust in that place. Not faith and trust that my life will only contain good things, but faith and trust that He will be enough even if…
The heartbreaking news stories of the past few weeks would be enough to make any of us fear loss. There is so much around us. We are not immune, but the One Who holds the universe holds our lives. He holds the lives of those suffering greatly. He longs to bring hope to devastation.
He is the immovable, unshakable God who is altogether dependable. We may not understand all of the things happening in our lives or some of the losses we experience, but He sees all from beginning to end and can make something beautiful out of the ashes if we let Him.
There are so many things that we put our hope in other than Him and He is constantly wanting to show us those places so that our hope is truly and fully in Him. As we give Him those places, we find ourselves more and more free.
What are you finding your hope in today?
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, I give you my situation and all of my fears. Thank You that You know the beginning and end of this story – both my story and the larger story that You are writing. Help me to trust in You. I chose to put my hope in You. Please show me what that looks like in the situation I am facing right now. I know that You are good and that You are the author of My life.
**Photo credit – fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons