I’ve been in a fight for over a decade.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m fighting with Hope, wrestling in the desert through the dark of night, begging for a blessing. But this long-standing fight, this particular back and forth of daily cries and deep sighs and tears rolling down cheeks, is a fight for hope, a fight to hope, a fight of hope.
Even now, writing these words brings tears to my eyes. It’s true that hope heals but also? Hope hurts. It’s risky.
When you’ve hoped for something time after time, month after month, year after year, but then everything stays the same, it’s easy to become resigned. Numb. Disillusioned. Apathetic. “God is working in our waiting” sounds lovely until we’re actually waiting. Until things fall apart. Until the diagnosis, the phone call, the silence, the pain, the day after day of the same. It’s still true; it’s just harder to hold onto.
Twelve years ago, I had brain surgery. When they took out the tumor, the symptoms stopped and the insomnia began. It’s taken its toll in a thousand unseen ways, all of them worth it to still be here all these days, but there isn’t a word for the exhaustion that has become my normal. Sleep. All I want is to be able to sleep. To have the energy needed for each day, the bandwidth to show up for my people but not completely crash afterward, to experience rest in a body that tosses and turns until the sun rises and it’s time to throw the covers back and begin another day.
I read the story of the woman who bled for twelve years, who spent all she had and tried absolutely everything (Mark 5:24-34). I can feel it in my tired bones, the absolute desperation in her fingers, her mind, her heart, her broken body reaching for the fringe, one last grasp toward hope.
I hear it in the words of the two disciples as they left Jerusalem, disappointment and despair coloring their conversation as they walked toward the village of Emmaus. Luke 24:13-35 records the moment. I can hear their confusion as they discuss the news that arrived that morning, their heartbreak as they share the story with the stranger who joined them on the road.
“We had our hopes up that He was the One,” they say. “We had hoped…” drifts away with the breeze as they put one dusty foot in front of another, unaware that Hope is literally walking them home.
I think of this as I make another doctor’s appointment, as I pull into the parking lot and dare to show up, knowing that hope might crash down again. After all, it’s been twelve sets of 365 and the only thing that seems to have changed is that I sleep less than ever before.
If I’m honest, at this point it would be easier to give up the fight and avoid the heartbreak of disappointment. There would be relief in saying “it is what it is” and attempting to make the best of it, firmly shutting the door on the hopeful expectation that something will change. Twelve years of prayers, of tossing and turning in the dark and yawning throughout the day, tells me that choosing to hope again is not just risky — it’s foolish.
But I remember the man who wrestled with God through the night and walked away with a limp (Genesis 32:22-32). I remember the woman who desperately reached out and was named “daughter,” the disciples who didn’t recognize Hope Himself until He blessed and broke the bread as they sat down for a meal, and I see a God who doesn’t tease, a God who comes close and says hope won’t put us to shame (see Romans 5:1-5).
I don’t actually believe “it is what it is” . . . I believe it’s so much more, so much better. I believe the God of the entire universe became a baby in a womb and that what was once dead can rise and walk alongside two discouraged friends on a road to Emmaus. More than twelve years of history tells me the Author is good.
With everything in me, I believe God is healer. What I’ve come to see, though, is that healing doesn’t always look like what I’ve pictured. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is not a yes or a no but a Person. We get God, and in my desperate reaching, I’ve found Him to be enough.
Will this year bring healing? Will I fight for hope only to watch it crash down? I don’t know, but I’ll risk finding out, trusting that Hope will be the anchor and no matter the coming waves, I will not sink.
There’s a mystery and a miracle in the blessing and the breaking, and while I’d choose just the blessing myself, I know Him most intimately in my heartbreak. It’s only when the One who truly broke reaches out and breaks the bread that His disciples can truly see: Every hope that felt dashed was held in nail-scarred hands. Every prayer was heard. Every heartbreak was seen. Every tear was witnessed. They spoke in past tense, but Hope was present, always there, walking right beside. They were never alone.
Our waiting won’t be wasted. All that is broken will be mended. We will not be put to shame.
I’m getting my hopes up.
If today’s post resonated and you’d like more encouragement from Kaitlyn, her book Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between will help you choose hope for tomorrow when today feels like a question mark.