Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Tin Man, a Potato, and Hope

This is me today! Pinterest has some of the most 
hilariously funny chronic illness memes!
Now this is ironic…

The fork slips out of my hand again onto the counter. I will my stiff fingers to move, to somehow pick it back up again and then shuffle back to my desk carrying my lunch with unbending knees and elbows. Chronic Lyme disease as well as the side-affects from its treatment causes joints to ache and stiffen painfully, and today the flare-up is worse than it has ever been before.

Of course, on the day when I get to eat a potato… Today is my 12-hour window to try the food after 9 weeks of deprivation to see how my body reacts, and I can’t stop giggling hysterically as I can’t seem to even hold the knife to cut off a glorious tasty piece. Finally, I just stab the whole thing and gnaw off a bite.

Heavenly! And as I chew the blissful food, I stare at my computer screen, pondering how I’m going to stiff-finger type out a blog post to introduce my most recent newsletter and health update. Maybe the topic of “Thanksgiving,” would be appropriate…after all, I’m trying out potato!
Maybe, as we just celebrated the first Sunday of Advent, I should focus on Hope.

Or maybe both—because for me, it is in the confident presence of hope that I can give thanks…and it’s the expression of thanksgiving that allows me to live in that hope.

I have recently been reading an encouraging and challenging book called Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering edited by Nancy Guthrie. In her introduction, Nancy writes, “Holding on to hope, for us, has not been a vague, sentimental experience. It has been an ongoing choice to believe God’s Word…. I am not holding onto hope in terms of a positive perspective about the future or an innate sense of optimism, but rather holding on to the living person of Jesus Christ” (11).

Six months ago I wandered back to the US from a third world country and found to my surprise, that I had not left turmoil behind. Instead, the world’s eternal ache was groaning here too, shouting and flailing for something, anything, that might allow them to stand in confidence, to look toward the future in hope.

A hope that’s already here—and is more than just a platitude on a greeting card or a carved Christmas sign, but living and breathing and flowing through the moments of our lives until all we need to do is choose.

And so I reach out with two weak and aching hands that can barely grasp a fork and cling to this Man, to rest in the confidence of His promises and bask in their light that makes whether or not I’ll be able to eat a potato again (probably not for a while) fade into the background
Because on those days that my hands stiffen like Tin Man and I can’t hold on anymore, it doesn’t matter. Because He’s hanging onto me.

And so I give thanks.

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Guthrie, Nancy, ed. Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering: 25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. Print.