Hope like fire
It’s a good thing I’m working today. It’s been a rough week so far and the work is a welcome distraction. I think if I wasn’t keeping myself busy I would probably collapse into a heap on the floor in a flood of tears. As it is I’m finding it hard to hold it together. It’s days like these that remind me this truly is a battle and, as such, some days are going to be messier than others.
I’ve had to deal with some (probably) well intentioned but seriously misguided words this week. Words that have caused me deep distress and anguish. I’m ok now but there were a few hours there where I really wanted to crack some skulls. When someone or something threatens my little family…. look out. Have you ever seen a silver-back gorilla detect a threat to his family? That’s me… times ten.
It says in Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)
21 Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose
As I make my way through this valley I am becoming increasingly aware of how true that really is. The words of some people in my life are reassuring and warm. Others are dripping with generosity and kindness. Others still are hopeful and comforting. And there are those that are stinging with carelessness, ignorance and doubt.
Our words are powerful. Make no mistake. They can inspire and elevate or they can cut down and destroy. A seemingly simple comment, without consideration, can devastate and once it’s out there you can never get it back. I used to be pretty quick with a comeback or an opinion (ask my wife) but these days…. not so much. I try and consider my responses a little more carefully than I used to. It’s a good thing too, because there are times when I open my mouth and I’m sure you’d really have to wonder if I truly did aspire to be like Christ when you hear what comes out.
But, I’m learning…. hard and fast these days.
I vividly remember driving home from the hospital the day I was diagnosed. I tried to pray but all that came out was “God, help.” Not exactly words that inspire but it was all I had. Even now, five months later, it’s still all I’ve got.
There’s no point in me trying to conjure up grandiose prayers in some lame attempt to be a superstar believer. This is God I am speaking to. If anyone can see through the smoke screens I put up to cover my inadequacies and fears, it’s Him. Thankfully, I don’t have to be perfect or ‘holy’… He’s just happy for me to come, no matter how much mess I bring with me.
Chemotherapy is nothing short of drudgery. So while I’m having my infusions I’ve been listening to a lot of music. I really like a band called Angels and Airwaves… have done for quite a while now…. and one of their songs says this:“Let me feel you, carry you higher Watch your words spread hope like fire Secret crowds rise up and gather Hear your voices sing back louder”
Words that spread hope like fire. Voices that sing back louder than they were sung to….
In my most helpless moment my voice went out in the most pathetic, desperate cry…
And over the course of the next 24 hours, as word spread to our friends and family around the world, my broken, helpless voice was amplified thousands of times by those of you who took up the call to pray for me. That sound, the sound of many people gathered on my behalf, now reaches Heaven not as a single, solitary voice… but as a roar. And I know God has heard. He can’t ignore it. It’s so persistent, so consistent, so demanding, so loud that He can’t help but notice and be moved by it.
Those two words don’t really sound like much but they contain the two things that Jesus responded to when it came to people asking him for healing… Faith and Compassion.
Faith because I have asked God for help, and in asking I expect an answer in the affirmative.
A perfect example is shown in Matthew 8:5-13 (The Message)
5-6As Jesus entered the village of Capernaum, a Roman captain came up in a panic and said, “Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk. He’s in terrible pain.” 7Jesus said, “I’ll come and heal him.”
8-9“Oh, no,” said the captain. “I don’t want to put you to all that trouble. Just give the order and my servant will be fine. I’m a man who takes orders and gives orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10-12Taken aback, Jesus said, “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works.”….. 13Then Jesus turned to the captain and said, “Go. What you believed could happen has happened.” At that moment his servant became well.
Compassion because I desperately need Him to heal me and in asking for help I reveal my own weakness.
Matthew 20:29-34 (The Message)
29-31As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
32Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”
33They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”
34Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.
He was deeply moved. Other translations say “His heart broke”. What kind of God is this? That he would be deeply moved by my cry for help?
It’s because I am His.
And like a father who sees his son in danger, He has come to my rescue. I hear His footsteps through the corridors of Heaven. Steady and purposeful, moving towards me. The King of kings… giving orders… commanding his angel armies to go and fight for me… to guard me carefully from my enemy, from the one who has issued this assignment on my life. The one who seeks to kill and destroy.
And the battle continues….
I have no idea what lies ahead in the coming weeks, months…. years maybe. But as much as I don’t know what’s coming, I do know this: There will be an end to this journey and it will not be met with grief and sadness. It will end in triumph and you will hear my Hallelujah ringing in your ears… loud and clear… because of what He has done.
I’m human. My comprehension of eternal things is limited by the skin that I’m living in…. but I know enough about God’s character to know that His promises are rock solid. He can’t lie and He is not a man that he should change his mind.
His word is unchanging and that, for me, is enough.