Below is a testimony of HOPE…HOPE in One who never disappoints!
I’m reminded of what one of my pastors shared recently during a Wednesday evening service: Throughout scripture, the call to remember God’s goodness and faithfulness of the past is not simply for the sake of remembering. It is to encourage our faith about who He STILL is and what He is STILL willing to do TODAY!
Remembering revives HOPE in us because God is the same today as He was in days of old. He is a God of grace, hope and restoration.
Before pressing send on this post, I must say that while writing this my mind was flooded by the things that remain on my prayer list for others and even for myself. There are some who have been hurting. Some, bar a miracle from God, are fearful of what the future holds. Their uncertainty is often marked with tears and fears.
My heart AND prayers go out to us all, even as I believe on my knees that God STILL can… Besides, those who hope in the Lord will never be disappointed because “He is able to work everything out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.
In fact, Romans 8:28 was the YouVersion verse of the day I had read the morning Andy announced to me that he had scheduled a doctor’s appointment with a dermatologist a week after I encouraged him to go following my dentist visit.
My dentist, Dr. Houston, a Christian, randomly began sharing about a close family member having an aggressive form of skin cancer. He was thankful that it was caught and she is now cancer free.
I’m always listening for God to speak, and in retrospect, that day in the dentist chair God spoke loud and clear. That conversation was the start to realizing the grace God planned to show in our circumstances, though we had no clue at the time.
Even though Andy didn’t plan on going to the doctor (as most men who are encouraged to do so by their wives:) a week later he developed an unsightly rash on his arm that finally compelled him to make the unwelcome trip to the dermatologist where a biopsy taken from his back revealed…cancer.
I REMEMBERED Dr. Houston’s testimony after Andy was diagnosed and knew that if God could help my dentist’s family member, He could certainly do the same for Andy.
I am a firm believer that God doesn’t want to merely “do” religion on Sundays or Wednesdays with us. He wants a relationship with His people, even revealing to them the whiles of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (even revealing these things while we sit in a dentist’s chair, as in my case).
But it doesn’t stop there.
The even greater reality is that Jesus, through Holy Spirit and the power of His blood spilt on the cross, came to bring us life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) That life includes healing for our bodies.
Indeed, “God will work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them in Christ Jesus.”
“31 Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Now, technically, you can stop reading here. I’ve written above what is at the crux of this post, but if you’re curious and wish to be encouraged by our testimony and a few prayerfully faith-building nuggets about our life-giving HOPE…please continue to read: “Rainbow Eyes”. 🙂
Ariella: Daddy, I see a rainbow.
Ariella: In your eyes
Me: I have rainbow eyes?
Me: Why do you say that?
Ariella: …because they’re pretty
Me: : )
My husband shared the above conversation with me on July 17th between him and our 2-year-old daughter. I overheard part of the conversation but not how it ended.
At first, I thought nothing of it except that it was incredibly sweet and endearing. However, little did I know that she was speaking a deeper reality. She was speaking a reality of grace, hope and restoration…though she knew it not…though we knew it not!
1O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
2You have taught children and infants
to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
and all who oppose you.
Little did Ariella know that her Daddy was diagnosed with stage-two melanoma cancer three weeks prior. (He went to the dermatologist for an unsightly rash on his arm and decided to undergo a full body scan). Little did she know that surgery on Daddy’s back was scheduled for 7 days after their endearing conversation. The oncologist was to take out the remaining cancer and perform biopsies on his lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread. Little did she know we were hoping for a proverbial rainbow to break through the stormy clouds as the Son’s gracious light shown on our dark circumstances.
Little did she know that her daddy would need “rainbow eyes” to see HOPE for the road ahead.
Despite what the rainbow symbolizes for some, our family believes in the biblical meaning. In Genesis 9, a rainbow symbolizes a covenant of grace and mercy between God and all creation–grace that draws our heart to place our HOPE in Him for the restoration/healing that only His love can bring.
In my view, the rainbow covenant God made in Genesis 9, foreshadows the new covenant of the Cross of Christ and His gracious, redemptive love towards man.
During the weeks leading up to Andy’s surgery, God revealed His graciousness some more. Many, many intercessors had interceded on Andy’s behalf, including leaders at our church (HOPE Church, SC), HOPE Student Ministry youth, and wonderful dear friends and family were believing with us for a miracle. (It reminds me of something Andy shared with me before we were married. A woman he had never met before came up to him after he helped lead worship at a friend’s wedding and began to prophesy a very encouraging message of hope. One thing she said is that he would have intercessors praying for him. We had no clue what that would mean and the other things she foreshadowed or prophesied, but by golly, 8 years later we know now what God always knew and had revealed through her!)
This too points to God’s grace!
Andy mentioned recently at a Wednesday small group meeting that during that time he felt incredibly supported in prayer, even by those he’d never met at church. I wasn’t the only one interceding on his behalf. He had many believers (young and older, alike) lifting him up in prayer to our good, good Heavenly Father. They were not daunted by the diagnosis but prayed believing that God could do the impossible.
Supported by all the prayers being lifted, God gave us strategic and Divine revelations about how to target the cancer and other attacks on Andy’s health in recent years through prayer.
Why do I say “Divine revelations”? Well, when Rhonda, the Connection’s Pastor at HOPE Church followed up with me regarding my vaguely written prayer request about some suspect test results, after explaining everything to her in detail, these exact words were spoken during our conversation: “Nothing is too hard for God.”
The VERY NEXT DAY, the verse of the day on YouVersion Bible App was Jeremiah 32:17, which states the following:
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Jeremiah 32:17 was the scripture on which God wanted to anchor our hopes for a miracle. It all started with KNOWING the God on whom we can place our HOPE–the God who created the heavens and earth by his great power and outstretched arm. He is a God for whom nothing is too difficult. NOTHING is too hard!
If that wasn’t confirmation enough, the night before Andy’s surgery, a leader at HOPE Church posted Jeremiah 32:17 on the Facebook page. (It just so happened to be on my newsfeed as soon as I visited Facebook that evening.)
That was the final scriptural confirmation and encouragement to delve into that verse further. After reading the context, specifically the verses that followed verse 17, I knew what God was speaking loud and clear. He was directing our prayers and leading us to the restoration that was already ours through the gracious blood of Christ. He longed to reveal Himself as a restorative God, not just in creed but through His deeds on our behalf. By His stripes we are healed!
I strongly believe that HOPE and the joy and exaltation that proceeds is the bridge between God’s grace and our restoration. He delights in doing good For us because He…IS…GOOD! He Is love. For us that’s not just some religious platitude. It is what we believe, yes! It is also what we’ve experienced and KNOW others can experience as well!
Graham Cook agrees. I listened to His Beloved CD the night before Andy had surgery and I was floored by the following timely words and prompted to write in my journal, “God will heal Andy!”:
“The beloved will always overrule the enemy because exaltation increases revelation and revelation exposes every situation to the will and power of your God. Joy will fix your heart on Me. It will refresh you and allow you to override every difficulty because the true nature of the beloved is to always see through eyes of My heart. The joy of the beloved is to abide in the place of deep affection.”
WOW! I felt God speaking right into our hearts to trust His love for us as His beloved. Read the quote again, will You!
The night before Andy’s surgery (when I received the final Jeremiah 32:17 confirmation) since we missed communion that Sunday due to frustrating delays, I believe God wanted us to remember Jesus’ broken body and shed blood together as a family in our home before surgery. I shared Jeremiah 32:17 and the revelations that came from the context of the verse with Andy, and he prayed canceling the assignments of the enemy on his life and that of our Ariella and future children by applying the finished work of the Cross.
While we prayed, Andy had several revelations of his own. After taking communion, one revelation involved realizing the significance of a close brush with death/danger the Monday prior to his surgery.
He went on a backpacking trip.
He was walking along the narrow path with his dear friend Andrew.
Suddenly three steps away Andy (my husband) saw a rattlesnake.
Andy believed God brought that incident to remembrance and revealed that the enemy will try to slither death, harm or threats along our path, but our GOOD GOD will guard our steps.
…BUT our Good Shepherd will lead us down PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HIS NAME SAKE! (Psalm 23)
God will always provide a way out of the camouflaged snares the enemy sets along the road of life, and Andy realized that in order to take that “way” we often have a role in the matter. We must focus on the spiritual “narrow” path before us. When we are focussed on the path of Jesus’ righteousness and love, not looking to the left or to the right, we position ourselves to receive the grace of God in the form of revelations about what God is up to and even the ways the enemy is trying to OPPOSE us in route to our God-given destination/destiny…if he can.
With eyes fixed on the right path, we are positioned to HOPE for deliverance from evil and experience the restoration that is ours in Christ Jesus. As our family continues to cling to God, He will reveal every opposition of the enemy, granting us the grace to resist, and the enemy has no choice but to flee, slithering away on his belly.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:7)
Throughout all of this, my main prayer for Andy was that God would heal him, and in the process grant him peace and confident assurance that God would never leave him nor forsake him. Now, Andy is naturally a peaceful man, but the peace that engulfed his soul was more than natural temperament (that can only get one so far); it was supernatural!
God did not disappoint in giving him peace as his mind was stayed on HIS character of love and truth, though the enemy tried to frustrate him in many ways during that time. In fact, God’s peace was so prominent in Andy, that in the aftermath, he is convinced that if God blesses us with another daughter, her first name will mean peace, and her middle name will be joy.
Peace and Joy will be part of our spiritual legacy because we love a good, good Heavenly Father who has lavished us with both through the same Holy Spirit that resurrected our Righteous Savior.
So, fast forward to the morning of Andy’s surgery…
We were supposed to be there at 7am, though the surgery didn’t end up happening until around noon. In retrospect, I believe God wanted us to leave early because He wanted to further confirm that it was He who was going to work on Andy’s behalf to restore his health.
The sun that morning was breathtakingly beautiful, so I snapped pictures on my camera phone. Most images came out distorted, however, until I zoomed into the Sun. (Oh, the irony.)
Upon doing so, rays of the sun looked like a cross. At the foot of the cross I saw some mysterious circles–four in number. They could very well be headlights from cars coming in the opposite direction as we drove to the hospital, but they looked incredibly similar to what I would imagined healthy cells would look like. In fact, immediately upon seeing the circles, I thought, “Healthy cells.”
Each circle appeared to have a nuclei in the middle. It looked like something one would see under a microscope. At any rate, I shared this with Andy eventually as he laid in the pre-operation room and our hope increased exponentially. God was continuing to cultivate an atmosphere of hope/faith–the stead for a miracle.
We were expecting a good report after surgery was complete. In fact, when the doctor came in to tell me that surgery went well, I asked him: “So, how long until we hear about the positive report?” 🙂
The next day, July 25, after Andy’s surgery, as I was seeking the Lord and writing prayers in my journal, I was thrown aback by the quote on my new journal page that morning:
“When we’re filled with joy, we can look at a rain cloud and say to ourselves, ‘There’s a rainbow coming in just a little while.'”
There goes the rainbow once more! Coincidence? I THINK NOT! Seven days prior to Andy’s surgery, Ariella spoke a deeper truth than even we realized. The many prayers lifted on Andy’s behalf helped to color his “rainbow eyes” with hope.
By definition, faith is HOPE in what you do not see. And though we did not see the positive restoration, we knew we were hoping in a good, good Heavenly Father for whom nothing is too difficult…nothing is too hard. He granted us the peace and joy we needed to see past the diagnosis and scars and HOPE…and believe in His restorative might!
Though the rain cloud was still over our heads as we waited for the report, we had rainbow eyes.
Our hope was in the unseen: There was “a rainbow coming in just a little while.”
The “rainbow” revealing God’s grace in our circumstances came four days after surgery on Tuesday, July 28th. Andy received a call from a nurse that the biopsy of the tissues removed and of his lymph nodes revealed NO residual CANCER! He was completely healed by our good, good Heavenly Father!
Jesus STILL heals, and as a family we will not relent in testifying that there is nothing impossible for our good and great Heavenly Father!
Those with positive outlooks in the face of difficulty and even grave circumstances are considered pie- in-the-sky wishful thinkers about whom realists would remark, “I wouldn’t hold my breath too long if I were her!”
People tend to see such “wishful thinkers” through the lenses of their bleak realities–through the lenses of hopelessness and even despair.
But what of HOPE? What of PEACE and JOY in the midst of said HOPE!?
In today’s day and age HOPE has become the new four letter insult to those in despair, even among some professing believer as our gaze is fixed on all that’s happening in the world around. Oh, the irony of that!
Let’s be believers who actually believe!
There needs to be a resurrection of hope in our midst as the stone of doubt is rolled away right before our eyes. May resurrection Sunday so rise in our hearts (even beyond our Ressurection Sunday celebrations and traditional Easter egg hunts .) that we stand on the promises of God that though the enemy in this FALLEN world has come to steal, kill, and destroy…OUR SAVIOR JESUS THROUGH HIS LOVE THAT BLED RED FOR YOU and FOR ME ON THE CRUEL CROSS, has come to bring LIFE AND LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY to all who believe. (John 10:10)
Besides, Jesus didn’t mince words when he quoted Isaiah 61 which reads:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
In Luke 4, referring to the above scripture as Jesus first embarked on His ministry at 30, he says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In biblical times, God’s heart has always been moved by people who knew Him intimately as God, took Him at His word, thereby responding by placing their hope and trust in His goodness and great might! Today is no different.
I pray that this testimony of God’s faithfulness will not encourage you to tote around some superficial rose-colored lenses of wishful thinking in the face of life’s hardships. Instead, I pray that the Great Cardiologist/Optometrist will do the necessary heart and eye surgery needed so that you too can walk through the storms of life with “rainbow eyes”.
HOPE in God is the bridge between His GRACE to our RESTORATION!
I HOPE you will believe!
And so I pray: Our good, good Father who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven…in our hearts as in Heaven…in our churches as in Heaven…in our homes as in Heaven…in our bodies as in Heaven…at our jobs as in Heaven, because YOU ARE LORD, so may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done! Help us to fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our HOPE! Jesus! Amen!