Friday, Nov. 29 – Sheryl Rhoads

29 Nov

Friday, Nov. 29 – Hope

Today’s scripture:
Daniel 7: 13-14; Romans 8:31-37

Hope. If you had asked me two years ago to define what the word means to me, I would have said “wishful thinking.”  Now I know hope is so much more. It’s lifesaving. For me, as I’ve learned to trust in the power of God’s love and the hope we have in Jesus, my faith in Him and in His people has grown. Rocked to the core, actually. Before last year, I was reluctant to ask for help for anything and did not like accepting help that was offered. I was hesitant to even ask for prayer if it was for me. I wanted to do it all by myself.

Then, last year, as many of you know, our daughter, Lily, was hospitalized with kidney failure after exposure to E.coli. We watched helplessly as our lively, healthy little girl, just 20 months old, was flown via helicopter to the children’s hospital, not knowing if she would be alive when we arrived.

Once at the hospital, everything quickly spiraled out of control. The kidney failure caused her to retain fluids, and her lungs collapsed. She had to go on life support, and we were told she had about a 20 percent chance of surviving.  As the days passed, I alternated between begging God for mercy and trying to reassure myself that we would be reunited in heaven. At one point, I felt I had no more words to pray. I thought if I couldn’t pray for her anymore, and I was her mother, there must be no hope left.

Then, God revealed His plan for Lily through His people. Though we had attended BRCC only three times before Lily got sick, several of you came to pray over her, expressing the words buried deep in my heart. A cousin set up a 24-hour prayer chain. We learned about people around the world praying for Lily and stories of people who have never met her waking up in the middle of the night to God’s assurance that she would make it through.

God used other people to teach me about His love and the power of hope and faith. I had to learn to lean on others too—accepting the kindness of complete strangers who took in our dog for two months, knowing nothing we could offer in return would be enough, friends who came to take us away from the hospital for an hour or two, and drawing comfort and strength from other families in the ICU.

This Advent season, we are teaching our daughter about the birth of Jesus and how this little baby represented hope to the Israelites and ultimately the world. Eventually, we’ll talk to her about how she is a living testament to the healing power of God and to the powerful intercession that Jesus provides for his people. I’ll also tell her about how God used her story to transform the lives of so many others—from our family members who were not believers and who prayed with us for the first time over Lily to the nurses whose hearts were changed because of the miracles they witnessed. And me. I’ll tell her how I went from a person who didn’t want to rely on anyone to someone who fully recognizes the joy of community, of trusting in God’s work through His people, and of the power of hope.

She has not completely recovered, nor are we assured that she will not eventually face a transplant or dialysis or even an illness unrelated to her kidneys. But we can assure her of the eternal hope we have in Jesus. Nothing, not trouble or hardship or sickness or death, can separate us from the love of Christ.

-Sheryl Rhoads

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