One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to stretch my legs out as far as they will go whenever Hugh gets out of the bed to get ready for work. It feels kind of mean that I get to still lay there for a few minutes; but I love the feeling of my feet as they run over the covers. Usually, I lie awake as he showers and begins the day. I keep my eyes closed, hear the sound machine from the baby monitor in the background, and have a few moments of peace. Oftentimes the girls have sleep problems throughout the night, but it seems as if these few moments tend to stay quiet and restful.
Yesterday morning when I opened my eyes, it was as if I was awakening from a long, blurry dream. I spend hospital visits running on God’s sustenance, which often comes in the form of adrenaline and coffee, and it usually doesn’t hit me until a day or so after that what just happened actually happened. I rubbed my eyes, heard a couple of croupy coughs coming from the girls’ room, and remembered. Too many thoughts or no thoughts at all came to my mind, and instead of stretching and taking in a few moments, I just sat there, foggy and beginning to process the prior week. Hugh came in to brush his teeth and tell me goodbye, but instead of a, “Good morning” or, “Have a good day”, he simply said, “2 Corinthians 4 and 5 are quite possibly the best chapters in the Bible”.
Ah, yes. Motivation to get up and fuel myself with His Word. As I read through these verses, so many emotions welled up in my eyes and heart.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”- 2 Corinthians 4:7
His power, not mine. This becomes clearer and clearer the longer we live this journey. Not external- internal. There are so many moments this was apparent at the hospital this week. As I sat in the ER with Ally as she got fluids, knowing we were going to get admitted simply because the scene was all too familiar, my exterior was already beginning to feel tired. My interior however, the God in me, was steadfast. As she had her second febrile seizure-like activity of the day- my heart beat fast and my hands became clammy, yet internally- focused and fixed. For every blood draw, vital sign, cough, vomit, test, cry, fever, dry diaper… His presence within me unmoved. The hospital? Transient. The extreme tiredness and lack of sleep I was experiencing? Temporary. Illness? Hallelujah- not permanent. All of these winters we experience in this life, both literally and figuratively, are simply not going to last. Three precious friends brought us flowers this week, and in each of the notes they left, God imprinted this reminder: Spring is coming. Always. In Christ, we have been given the ability to look to the same One in all circumstances and at all times. What a gift this is! What relief this brings in times of struggle. The same One we look to in our springs is the One we look to in our winters.
I always pack a familiar, soft blanket and lovey for the girls during the hospital stays. Why?-because it brings comfort and familiarity to an unpredictable and uncomfortable situation. How much more soothing is this God within us who has walked through anything and everything we will ever go through? He knows our moments, each and every one. And, not with a vague knowledge; but with an intimate knowledge that comes from being the Author and Perfector of each of our stories.
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”- 2 Corinthians 5:1
I enjoy camping, and Hugh and I have done so a couple times during our marriage. When we went camping in Yosemite, we didn’t anticipate how cold those California nights could be. While it wasn’t the most ideal sleeping situation, it didn’t bother me a bit because I knew it was temporary. In this chapter of Corinthians, the word, “tent” is used a few times to describe these transient bodies we live in. I love this analogy because it gives such a great picture of how we should view our time on earth: we are here for a visit. This world is not our home. In Hebrews, it is worded that, as a Christ follower, we are foreigners here on this earth. To any of us who have walked through suffering, this is manna for our souls. Our true home is in the heavens, face to face with our Maker. We are camping out here for however many days God sees fit; and then, in the blink of an eye, our days here will be over and eternity awaits for those of us who have faith to believe.
Before either of the girls were admitted to the hospital, I used to think of the hospital as a place where only critically ill patients stayed. In a sense, I thought every hospital room had an ICU patient. Once we stayed there however, I realized this was far from true. Our girls have not been in a critical situation as of now, yet the emotional strain that comes from these visits is big. Every alarm from a machine, every blood count off, every sleepless night…I am always waiting for things to go downhill. Not in a pessimistic way necessarily; but the reality of our life is that we don’t have a great idea of what our girls’ little bodies are capable or not capable of handling. The nights we spent at the hospital did not include sleep and in hindsight, I am immeasurably comforted and all the more convinced that this earth is a tent and my heavenly home is waiting.
The adrenaline has worn off, the girls are both still sick, and Ally spent most of the night coughing, coughing, coughing. (Which means yet again another sleepless night for us). Yet, last night, as I got up yet another time, a supernatural wave of satisfaction spread over me; for I realized that the more struggles and trials we walk through or watch others walk through, the more excited I get about our true home. This illness will pass, and while I do not know what lies around the corner, I do know Who wrote the next chapter and that brings me undeniable, absolute comfort.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Do not lost heart, friends. These trials are not just preparation for us, but for you. Do you realize that this earth is just a temporary abode? Does this bring you joy, or disappointment? Are you living for the things of this world or for the things of eternity? Today, may we find true sufficiency in being jars of clay. May we humbly accept our own inadequacies as we look to Him, our Inner Strength, to be just that. Instead of becoming weary in our suffering, may we find joy in knowing that an eternal weight of glory awaits. A weight of glory incomparably greater than hospitals, cancer, worldly knowledge, earthly relationships, tragedy, illness, the unknown, even death itself. Not by sight, but by faith. We are not yet home. Let’s live in light of this truth in each of these passing moments.
“The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on in the last half hour”.-Streams in the Desert