Hope. A simple word that, as defined by Webster’s on-line dictionary, means: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence or as Webster notes, to trust.
Unfortunately the word has been co-opted by politicians as a political slogan, and has lost what it once meant. No, I am not going to venture off into some political rant or attempt to pillory the denizens of DC. What I am going to try to do is to explain why it is that I still have a hope for my life and future.
Hope is something that all of us need. A lack of hope, hopelessness, leads us into giving up. If we feel that there is nothing we can do to help our situation, or that we are simply victims of whatever cosmic forces that may exist in the universe, then we have no reason for hope. We are simply pawns in a universal chess match that makes no sense.
Every morning I have a hope that today will be better than yesterday. Even though I know, from an intellectual stand point, that my illness is progressive, and that I will have different challenges each day, I hope, trust, that I will be able to accomplish something through the day. Even if it is something as simple as getting in and out of the bath by myself. There are days where I want to just give up hope, and not get out of bed. Between pain, fatigue, frustration and having to deal with the ignorance of people some days I do feel hopeless.
However, I still get up everyday, and try to move forward. Some days are better than others, and I am learning to cherish those. Others are spent primarily in bed and in pain. I don’t look for some magic bullet to cure me, but I hold HOPE that science will continue to make strides forward in understanding the nervous system, and may some day be able to regenerate dead nerves, or figure out a way of re-routing the signals the brain sends to the body, thereby enabling people with degenerative nerve diseases or spinal cord injury the possibility of living a more normal life. Truthfully, I don’t expect it in my lifetime, but perhaps within a generation.
As I said, hope is something that we all need. But not the type of hope that some people have. I hope to win the lottery. I hope that pretty girl in the office notices me today. I hope I pass biology. Somethings are not “hope” but wishes. And as the old saying goes, “You can wish in one hand and crap in the other. Guess which one fills up first?” Hope is more than wishing. Hope is trusting. Hope in believing in something big than yourself. Hope is based on a belief that God will take care of you and has your best interest in mind. While it may not seem so when you are going through whatever travail you are enduring, God gives us the hope to continue.
To me hope and faith are inextricably intertwined. It is as if you can’t have one without the other. If we place our hope and faith in God, then we can achieve what He wants us to achieve. And there’s the rub. What He wants for us, is not always what we want for us. Sometimes, many times, they are polar opposites. It is the person who stubbornly stays the course they have set for themselves that oft-times ends up running head long into God. And, take it from one who has personal experience in this, it is not a confrontation that you want.
God has allowed me great latitude to screw up my life, and I have many times over. Mistakes in relationships. Mistakes in jobs. Mistakes in more areas of life than I can count. And yet He has waited patiently for me. Waited, grimacing at my foolishness. Waited, laughing at my stubbornness. Waited and waited and waited, until I finally realized that my life was a spiral, a whirlpool that was drowning me in my own choices.
Yes, I have prayed to be healed of whatever medical problems I have, and thus far He has seen fit to allow them to continue. I understand better now what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that three times he asked the Lord to rid him of his “thorn” in his side, and three times God said, “No.” It was something that Paul needed to stay focused on his mission. I don’t know what exactly my “mission” is, but if my medical problems help me to learn/discover it, and help me to stay focused on what God wants for me to do then I will deal with the problems.
I just keep trusting and hoping that one day I will discover what truly is my purpose.