Here I sit, ten days away from the new year, wondering where the past seven weeks have gone. A storm that rolled into my life towards the end of October has not yet ceased in its fury. It has crashed upon my health but deeply impacted other areas of my life, too. And it has distracted me from posting to this blog as much as I would like.
God must have something good for me in 2012, because the trials have been so absurd and profound that even those who don't believe in demons would have to concede that this unrelenting hell is a bit out of the ordinary, even for those who deal with the hardships of chronic illness on a daily basis.
So I'm trying to look on the bright side, but I gotta admit, endless suffering has a way of stealing hope from the heart.
Ordinarily, when I spend time with God in prayer, or peruse the notebook of amazing and multitudinous (but unfulfilled) prophecies that He has given me over the past several years, (which include many promises to restore my health and all that has been stolen from me over the past decade), I am encouraged.
But hope deferred makes the heart sick, and I have told God repeatedly over the past two months that I don't "have it in me" anymore. People have always told me that I'm a fighter, and indeed, I am a strong soul. But for the first time in my life, telling God to heal me or take me off the planet has become more of a routine prayer than I'd like to admit.
I'm not suicidal, nor have I ever had the inclination, but even the strongest of the strong can only endure so much suffering without wishing they weren't stuck in this broken and busted up Garden of Eden anymore.
I know God uses me for His purposes. I have published five books on healing and medicine, and I minister healing to the sick on a regular basis. I can't leave this planet because I know I'm being used, but I could use a bit more happiness and comfort in my days. I need to be well, instead of being holed up in my house, living the lifestyle of a woman fifty years my senior.
I've gone through intense seasons of physical and emotional suffering before. Much of the past decade has been blacked out by these tremendous trials, but what has made the latest one unique-and perhaps more difficult- is the lack of hope I have experienced through it.
It's just been too long. I've confessed my lack of faith to God, prefacing my tirades to Him with, "I'm sorry, God, but I just can't muster up what isn't there. I want to believe you, but the despair is winning right now."
I took the matter to Him again last night, and He responded by giving me an image of a lit match flickering in the darkness, wavering and weak, as if ready to extinguish at the slightest puff of wind. The match represented my hope.
And then, it was as if God was saying that He could create a fire from that faint light in my heart. He didn't need me to have grandiose hope. He knew I was tired, and that I have been through too much. Few people can endure a severe chronic illness for years and still have sky-high hope for better days ahead. My feelings were normal and He wasn't going to punish me for not "believing more." That revelation in itself increased the size of the flame of my little hope match.
Because our society is so performance-oriented, it's easy to slip into believing that unless we have the right thoughts towards God, He can't heal us, or bless our lives. I'm probably more guilty of that than most people. And when circumstances don't change, you can't help but wonder what you are doing wrong.
But sugar-coating despair with words that we think God wants to hear, or to convince ourselves that God is going to bless us, does nothing but shove that hopelessness further down into the soul, where it begins to fester and silently torment us.
We can't increase hope by our own strength, any more than we can muster up faith by affirming God's truths. Neither strategy works, and while speaking words of truth and carrying out right actions can sometimes change the heart, it is also true that out of the heart the mouth speaks, and when the heart is broken, the mouth responds accordingly. When hope is gone, we don't need a bridle on our tongues as much as we need surgery in our hearts.
The good news is, when only a glimmer of hope remains, God can take that faint light and make a fire from it- which burns out the dross of unbelief, pain and every defiance of God's promises.
For many days, I cried out to God in despair, fear gripping me because I couldn't kick-start the hope that I have always maintained. And while I have yet to experience God's warmth upon me, the light within me has become a tad brighter, because I know that it is He who will rekindle the fire. I can't do it. My wilderness is too cold, and I'm too tired.
Yet I must seek His face and spend time in His Word...because only by immersing myself in the reality of Him can this hope return. Hope is a byproduct of spending time in His presence It springs up naturally from a soul and spirit that are in communion with Him. It also eventually makes manifest that which was initially hoped for.
All that I, that we, have to do, is seek His face. Let the enemy or the world not delude us into thinking there is another way to peace. There isn't. He is the restorer of all things. It doesn't matter that only a flicker of hope, or faith, remains. It is enough for Him to work with.
Tonight, as I light a Christmas candle, and study its dancing flame, I am reminded that Jesus Christ came to earth to be a light for every soul on the planet. His light brings hope to our hearts, and shines brightly within us, that we may transfer this same hope into the hearts of those around us.
Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright...