We Have This Hope…

We Have This Hope...

(Originally published on CaringBridge on 7/20)

Life has returned to “normal” again.

In the middle of June I had blood work drawn (CA-125) for my regular 3-month checkup. You might recall that my CA-125 gave us a bit of a scare back in October when it took a jump up into the low 20’s from it’s previous “norm” in the low teens. Since then it has hovered in the low 20’s…stable, albeit a bit high. My oncologist called it my “new normal.” Evidently not, as the result of the test done in June was a 9…the lowest it has EVER been! We are so thankful that despite ongoing abdominal discomforts, this provides a clear sign that my cancer is still in remission. As of July 17, I have been cancer-free for 15 months! We are praising the Lord for this wonderful news!

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A Common Thread

Some things you choose. And things some you don’t.

You can’t choose the family you’re born into. And of course you can’t choose the physical traits that make people notice who you “take after.” The color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, and even the sound of your voice are traits that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Generations woven together by common threads.

A Common Thread - The Joyful Journey

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…And with His Wounds

I had good news this week. My CA-125 is “stable”. After months of uncertainty, we can say with a certain degree of confidence that my cancer–at least for now–is still in remission.

And With His Wounds - The Joyful Journey

Though I am incredibly grateful for this good news, I am also humbled by it. Sometimes it seems that cancer is all around me. I am continually aware of so many people–godly people–who are battling this horrible disease, and who receive very little good news over the course of their battles.

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“One Word” for the New Year

We have this hope...

Over the last week or so, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk about a simple alternative to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of a resolution, you’re encouraged to choose one word for your new year. But I’ll get back to that in just a little bit, because thinking about choosing a word for 2014 got me thinking about 2013.

And frankly, 2013 wasn’t my best year.

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Real Life. Real Hope

To say that 2013 was a roller coaster ride for our family would be an understatement.

Last year, on December 10, I went to my doctor because of a symptom that I was concerned about. Three days later, I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3A ovarian cancer. Twenty days later, on January 2, I began an 18-week course of chemotherapy. During those 18 weeks I lost about 30 pounds, all my hair, and some of the feeling in my fingers and toes. Nausea and fatigue made doing even the simplest tasks seem difficult. Fear of infection kept me from venturing out of the house. I spent the better part of January-May on the couch. I lost almost 5 months of “normal” life.

lin_chemo

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…and therefore I have hope.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the Lord prepares us in advance for the testing that is yet to come?

And Therefore I Have Hope - The Joyful Journey

There is a truth that I have been pondering for years–decades even–that has recently become more meaningful to me than ever before. It’s not that this truth didn’t mean something to me before. It’s just that during the seasons of life when the Lord was writing the truth on my heart, I didn’t fully grasp my great need. And consequently I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the truth.

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But This I Call to Mind…

…and therefore I have hope.

It’s just a segue…the lead-in to one of the most oft-quoted verses in all of scripture.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

It’s no wonder that Lamentations 3:22-23 is such a “popular” verse.  It provides such rich encouragement to the child of God.  It gives assurance.  It reminds us of God’s compassion and His faithfulness.  It comforts.  It fills us with hope.  It’s the stuff of great hymns.

But a few years ago, I was struck by verse 21.  And the little word “but.”

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”

That little word and the realization that it signaled the importance of what preceded it, caused me to take a deeper look at the first part of Lamentations 3.  Though by this time, I had heard (and sung) the words of the latter part of Lamentations 3 more times than I could count, it dawned on me that I knew little of what led up to perhaps the greatest words of hope the scriptures had to offer.  I read the deep groanings of a desperate man, God’s man, the prophet Jeremiah.  I was surprised to find a bitter, hopeless man, overwhelmed by pain and despair.

“I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the LORD’s wrath…”

“He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.”

“Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.”

“He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.”

“So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them,  and my soul is downcast within me.”

Then, in the midst of the suffering, in the middle of the trial, Jeremiah breathes that word.

“BUT…”

Despite all the suffering, and in spite of all the pain, Jeremiah found the strength to remember.  He chose to call something else to mind…something that he knew would bring him hope.

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”

It’s so easy to let our sufferings overwhelm us.  It can be so easy to believe that there is no way out of the despair and the hopelessness.  But God has filled us with the knowledge of His faithfulness and he has given us the ability to choose to remember.  Trusting in his faithfulness is an act of the will.  It’s something we must choose to do.  And like Jeremiah, when we choose to remember his faithfulness in the midst of our struggle, we are filled with hope.

(Many thanks to a dear friend who reminded me yesterday of just how faithful God has been.)