My Body Also Will Live In Hope

I have three more days of treatment with Dr. Sunshine next week. I’ve been a little torn about making a big deal of it like last time because I don’t know if I can handle crushing your excited faces when you think I’ve been healed and the next time I see you, I’m not. It nearly broke my heart each time. Treatment was also a pretty traumatic experience. I wanted to cancel the appointments next week but Jason was having none of that nonsense and we couldn’t get our money back from the Airbnb so, there’s that. I’m glad I get to go away with my husband. In five and a half years of marriage we’ve spent a weekend at his cousin’s lake house for our honeymoon, we’ve stayed in his parents’ cabins once, we’ve gone to visit family, and he stayed one day with me during my last treatment. That’s it. I wish there were a little fewer doctor visits and a little more beach, but at least it’s something.

Prior to my last treatment, I had such a great attitude and I let myself hope. I opened up to healing more than I have in the past. I was so ready. And the relief only lasted a week, if I’m being generous. This time my attitude is vastly different. I have very little hope for long-term health and I know that if I don’t believe in the treatment, it certainly won’t work. But, dear readers, one cannot simply make oneself hope. If it were that easy, I promise I would do it. I have tried, but it’s no use. I just have to rely on the Holy Spirit to hope in me and on the hope that all of you have for me. That’s ultimately why I decided to even tell you about next week.  That and my very strong belief in honesty as one of the most powerful healing tools. So, thank you for hoping on my behalf. I do continue to pray for hope and I pray even for the desire to hope. “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here.”

Last time I chose Habakkuk 3:19 to keep me focused and grounded throughout treatment and that verse is still very present in my mind and heart. But I have been praying for God to lead me to another verse this time. I believe He gave me a passage this morning:

"I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope" (Acts 2:25-26).

MY BODY ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE. Those words burst off the page and straight to my heart. The passage is about Jesus’ body not seeing decay but also about hope for our own glorified bodies. One day our bodies will shed every malfunction and will be perfected, the way God intended from the beginning. I hope for that day. But I pray that my hope lives for today as well.

This passage is the same as in Psalm 16, but the wording in Acts touched my heart. I love the prior verse, Psalm 16:7 that says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Even in the darkness, maybe even because of the darkness, I can hear Him speaking clearer to me. He counsels my broken and hope-weary heart. I live in hope to hear His voice, even if health never comes in this life.

God goes before me and stands beside me (Psalm 16:8). My faith was not shaken last time and it will not be shaken this time. There was a time when my faith would have faltered, but I am so thankful that I have learned to run toward God instead of away from Him in hurt and anger when my hope is crushed. He makes my heart glad and brings praise to my lips (Psalm 16:9) and I pray He also brings living hope to my body. In Psalm 16 the wording is, “my body will also rest secure.” Even in brokenness, my body can rest in the hope of its eventual revival.

“… you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:10-11). God will never abandon us because of Jesus. Because Jesus lives, we can live. We follow Him down the path to life. Nothing here on earth is as wonderful as His presence, and we have the hope of eternal pleasures because He holds us in the same hand as those pleasures. Someone once said, “The more aware I become of God’s presence with me now, the more I hope for heaven, and not in my usual trying-to-escape way. I hope for heaven because I want to see Jesus face to face. Experiencing God now has led me to a greater hope in heaven. Being with Him has become more important to me than health and sentiment. What could be more healing than the presence of God?” Okay, it was me.. haha. I said it. You (and I) really should read the post I wrote on hope again… so click here.

I hope to experience God next week, no matter what else happens. I pray He brightens my spirit with a hope that is alive and coursing through my veins.  “No amount of disappointment after hope can ever be worse than feeling… your spirit darken without it.” Wow, that girl really knows what she’s talking about. 😉

So, next week we leap again in the strength of God. We pray for His counsel in the darkness and His hope everlasting. We rejoice in the presence of God always with us and pray that God will take my right hand so that my body will always LIVE IN HOPE.

Song I’m feeling: Living Hope, by Phil Wickham:

“In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope.”

God, in desperation I speak the name of Jesus into my doubt and disappointment. Bring light to the shadows of my brokenness. I know Your work is already finished. And the end is YOU. Hallelujah. Amen.

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A Broken Heart Is Broken Ground

Jesus told this parable:

“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down'” (Luke 13:6-9).

I may be taking some liberties with this text but I can’t get it out of my head. What struck me most was the “dig around it and fertilize it” part. In order for fruit to grow on a tree, it requires digging up of the stagnant ground and anything in that ground that hinders growth. It also requires the pouring in of those things that help growth, like water and fertilizer. In order for God’s fruit to grow in my life, I have to dig up the places I’ve neglected, avoided, and let dry up. I have to dig out Satan’s lies I’ve allowed to take root and choke me out. And I have to allow God’s living water to refresh me. I have to let His Spirit fill me with truth. I can’t make my own fruit grow, as impatient as I am, but what I can do is of vital importance. I can dig up the past that has so hindered me and I can pour in the Truth and let the Holy Spirit fall fresh on me.

To me, this is reminiscent of Psalm 51:16-17, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God already provided the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus so He doesn’t want any more burnt offerings or trying to earn salvation. What He does want is a broken and humble heart, open and allowing His love and truth to pour in. We cannot receive from God unless we break up the walls around our heart and the ground we’ve allowed to dry up in us. But we don’t do this difficult work on our own. It’s so interesting to me that the contrite heart in Psalm 51 is noted in my Bible to be the same words in Matthew 11:29 that describe God as “gentle and humble in heart”. It is in this passage that God calls us to come to Him, to rest our souls, and to let Him be yoked to us in order to lighten our load. The process will absolutely require heartbreak, but God offers us comfort in His rest.

For many years I have been like that landowner, waiting for my fruit to grow. And I praise God for allowing me to taste its sweetness here and there. But every time I see the fleshly parts of myself rear their ugly heads, I wonder how much longer I will have to wait for the whole tree to bloom with big, beautiful fruit. The bearing of fruit requires patience, unforced. And a lack of fruit just means that I have more ground to dig up, more truth to realize, more sweet rest to find, and more God to shower into my heart. I pray that God makes me useful by growing His fruit in my life so that I never simply ‘use up’ soil. I am thankful that He walks me through the digging up process as I plow the tough stuff side by side with Him (Matthew 11), and I am thankful that He is responsible for bearing the fruit, pruning me instead of cutting down the whole tree, because I am His. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

With God beside and within me, I continue to dig deep and open to His truth where once were lies, His water where once was dry, and His healing for my broken ground.

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