I was talking to my brother the other day and two words slipped out of my mouth that I didn’t even realize I felt. It sparked a good conversation, but they’ve been echoing through my head ever since. Hope hurts.

I’ve been battling health issues off and on my whole life but consistently for the past 12 years. With each test, new specialist, new medicine, new diagnosis…hope was sparked. Sometimes that spark was fanned into flame with promises of “this time we’ve figured it out” or “this new medicine is as safe as water with no side effects and 90% efficiency”. Just in case you’re curious, the only thing that is as safe as water, is water. With each failed diagnosis, treatment, test that wasn’t normal but inconclusive, another waterbomber flew overhead and doused me in fire retardant. This last failed treatment was two months ago and I’m still fighting the side effects. I didn’t I realize that I have become officially flame resistant until those words slipped out of my mouth. Hope hurts.

The original definition of hope is to wait, tarry, expect. The first time this word was used in Scripture was in Genisis 8:12 “So he (Noah) waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.” Buckle up because you just boarded my train of thought. If this was the first time Noah waited and the dove didn’t return signaling the end of the flood, what did he do the first times he let the dove go? The Bible states that the first time he let the dove out it basically came right back. Then “he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark.” Genesis 8:10 Unfortunately the English language doesn’t do us justice here. The original word in this verse that was translated as waited means, to twist, whirl, dance, writhe, fear, tremble, travail, be in anguish, be pained. Paints a drastically different picture than to wait, tarry, expect.

When Noah let the first dove out, she came back quickly because the earth was still covered with water. The next time he let her out he did the worry dance. She was gone all day and finally returned with an olive leaf in the evening. He could have sent the dove back with a dandelion but He chose an olive leaf. Olive trees are mentioned all throughout scripture. They are used symbolically as peace, prosperity, beauty and the relationship between God and His people. Thankfully God is gracious to send us an olive leaf amid our worry dance to remind us that He is still God. That He hasn’t forgotten us. The next time he set the dove free, he hoped, tarried. She never came back. He waited another 34 days before he removed the covering of the ark to look and see the surface of the ground was dry. It was almost another two months before God commanded them to leave the boat. Noah had learned how to wait and hope in God. He got out his lounge chair and rested instead of pacing and wringing his hands in fear.

Over the last two months I’ve been twisting, whirling, and spinning wildly out of control. My thoughts and emotions have been tumbling one over the other. I feel like my mother board is being controlled by a bunch of toddlers with ADD. Now some of this is the side effects of my last wonder drug treatment, but some of it is because I’ve misplaced my hope. I’ve put it in doctors, medicine and diagnoses. I’ve lost sight, yet again, that this body is weak and that this life is broken. That here and now is not the main event. I’m just passing through and I know the one that holds my hand. My hope (expectations) is not for healing here and now but for the day when “God will wipe away every tear from my eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 This is my hope. This is what I will cling to.

Hope is hard and can be brutally painful and God is faithful.

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