Consistency. Sigh. It’s hard. I’m finding it hard to stay consistent in this chapter of life. I intended to write this a month ago. But the days passed and other events, concerns and exhaustion took priority over posting. Today is a new day though, and better late than never right?
In part 1 of The Hope Cycle, I shared what Hope is not, which is a great place to start. I still needed to know what this hope thing was worth to me. Why is it so great to go through suffering that develops endurance which builds character and gives us hope. Then I looked up hope in the dictionary. The archaic definition of Hope is “trust and reliance.” That changes our view of hope. Hope it’s just some childish notion: I hope the Cubs win the World Series. I hope I get those earrings for Christmas. The suffering, endurance and character (Romans 5:3-5) all lead to a trust and reliance in the One who created the process.
This doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’ve learned a lot these last few months about the day in and day out trust and reliance, but honestly, there’s so much comfort in this idea.
The first part of the Hope Cycle is Hope; this trust and reliance does something in our hearts and that leads to the second part of the Hope Cycle:
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
When we let go of anxiety and give into hope and trust, it allows us to approach God with thanksgiving. This verse doesn’t say ignore the hard stuff and just give thanks. Paul writes here that we can come before God with our requests, but when we come from a posture of thanksgiving, it changes the way we ask. Thanksgiving makes what we have enough. It let’s us see what we do have, instead of what we don’t.
For Kris and I, we have pushed ourselves to ask God “How?” instead of “Why?” It’s allowed us to see Him working in us and be thankful for what He is doing, even through discomfort and pain. We are so thankful that January has been a month of progress and good news for us. Kris had another blood test the first week of the month, and it showed his iron levels are back in the normal range. Praise God the infusion worked, and he’s no longer anemic! We also had a great follow-up with his GI. Kris continues to adjust his medication, and we should have more definitive answers that his medications are working in the coming weeks. Kris had two really amazing weeks. His energy was up, and he was playing and rough housing with the kids more. He was able to do tasks around the house that a month earlier he couldn’t do and work full days well.
So much of me wants to stop right there. And truthfully, if I had actually written this when I planned to, I would have. We are reminded that this is a long journey to healing. Kris still has down days, and we are learning to manage his energy. If we know he has a stressful day at work, we keep our schedules clear for the evening. We are learning to give him breaks on the weekend to catch up on rest. I’m getting really good at saying “no” to events (for those who know me well, this is HUGE!). Eating well and on a schedule also plays into this. We have to grocery shop, meal plan, cook, etc well in order to keep him on the right path. BUT – we are so thankful to be here. We have amazing support from friends and family who continue to step in to help and who pray steadfastly for us. God has given us way more than we deserve. He never promised us health or an easy life, quite the opposite actually. We have so much to be thankful for. God is still moving and teaching us, and thankfulness has played a role.
Thanksgiving does something amazing in our lives, which leads to the third part of the Hope Cycle:
The next verse the Philippians 4 explains:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
When we approach God with thankfulness, then He gives us peace. This is not the only verse where Paul talks about this.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
It’s a peace that doesn’t make sense. Thanksgiving allows us to have peace when our situation seems anything but peaceful. Like the old children’s Bible song, we get “the peace that passed understanding down in your heart, down in your heart to stay.” And when we have peace:
“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” – Isaiah 26:3-4
Peace leads right back to Trust, which is Hope. The Hope Cycle: Hope>Thanksgiving>Peace. I will admit, we are weary, but we are at peace. We still have a year’s worth of blood draws, tests and adjustments of medication. But God’s got us. He promises to never leave us. We take this journey one step at a time, one day at a time. Some days are good; some days aren’t. The great news is that we are having more of the former and less of the latter.
And truly, if that were all the Hope Cycle was, it would be gracious enough, but God doesn’t end there. He wraps the Hope Cycle up with the most beautiful bow. I’ll share in Part Three (and I promise not to wait a month!!).