Healing Hope of Advent

We need a dollop of hope this week as we grapple with the unexpected tentacles of illness in our extended family.  October 29, 2016 I wrote about stepping firmly into the howling wind of hope without any concept of how prescient it was, or how I would need to take my own advice.  Sunday morning the phone rang and the news we heard created a howling wind; the kind that rattled the walls and made time stand still.  From our perspective, Greg's brother went from health to a brain tumour in just a few days.

I realize our perspective and the reality from a physical sense are different.  However the feeling that life got tipped upside down and shaken out very suddenly is real, and I can only imagine how it felt for those closest to it.  We learned new bits of information each day, and tried to be supportive without being intrusive.  All the while trying to catch our breath and wipe our tears as the howling wind kept blowing.

The wind never let up night or day.  At night it manifested in dreams of chaos where every closet in our house was emptied into the hallways.  Nothing was as it should be.  A well-ordered life was being tossed around.  The guilt crept in because I thought it wasn't my battle and I shouldn't be so undone.  Then sadness overran the guilt because when you love and care for someone and their family, you don't want them to ever experience this kind of pain.  Anger popped up when a well-meaning person prayed for healing if it was God's will.  But announcing mid-prayer that the pray-er should grow a set wasn't appropriate, so anger got stifled.  And hope.  Where was hope?

Hope was lurking in the background, waiting for me to get through the other messy stuff.  I had to get past the awkwardness of not knowing what to say and being afraid of saying the wrong thing. I had to commit to doing my best to walk alongside while we all go down this path as a family.  If I was going to pray, I was going to pray with conviction and faith.  There would be no 'ifs' in my prayer.  Jacob wrestled with God, flat out all in.  Abraham pleaded with God for Lot's life, like a relentless three year old determined to wear their parent down. Moses asked for Miriam to be healed, straight up without qualifiers.  I could go on but I don't need to because hope began to fill in the cracks of fear and uncertainty.

And Advent arrives this week to carry us through on healing winds of hope.  What a beautiful way to frame the coming week, the surgery, and the unknown.  Week one of Advent 2016, the week of hope amidst the howling winds.  The book, by John Ortberg, called When The Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box, sits open on my desk.  Chapter 7 is titled No One Else Can Take Your Turn.  This illness is Doug's turn, but it is also his family's turn, his friends' turn, his community's turn.  Our turn.  It is our turn to choose to stand firmly with him in the howling wind, clinging to the hope of Advent.  

p.s. You can follow Doug's journey at hisnextpage