4 years ago I was wheeled into the OR to deliver our sixth child.
The entire night before I had slept very little, very sure that this little soul would die before I would ever meet her. I had no medical reason for this fear, just a lingering historical fear (our firstborn was stillborn).
A literal flood of relief overwhelmed me when I heard her first cries and glimpsed her legs flailing as they gathered her weight and did a quick medical check.
In the OR recovery room I willed myself stable as quickly as possible so I could be reunited with her.
I sat in awe gazing at her as she grunted on my chest. Memorizing each toe, finger and sound. My husband went to pick up the rest of the family to meet her and some dear friends arrived to meet the newest addition.
Rapidly the situation changed and the next two weeks were a tumultuous time of unknown as our little E for unknown and unanticipated reasons fought for her life. Life support, a medical evacuation to South Africa, several times when doctors told us to stay close so we could say goodbye.
My postpartum emotions ran the gamut of fear, relief, joy, fear again, unknown and then cycled through them all over and over and the result a feeling that hope had become elusive and moments of despair.
For the believers,I think elusive hope rarely comes from a lack of faith, or even a lack of understanding about who God is. More often it becomes elusive because our history, our story, tempts it to run and hide when we need it most. I find most often elusive hope is just a sign that our emotions have not quite had a chance to catch up with what we know to be true.
In those dark two weeks I could verbally tell you of the goodness of God, I could re-count for you His character, but it did not restore my feeling of Hope.
In those dark two weeks I lost the ability to cry out in prayer to God but it wasn’t as simple as merely that I was lacking faith.
My emotions never had a moment to catch up with what I knew in my head to be true so hope felt elusive and that was marked for me by a sense of darkness.
In this season of global unknown brought about by Covid-19 and the approach of our miracle girls 4th birthday I find myself thinking of Hope and times in my life where it has been elusive.
Hope is one of the things that give us courage to go on through hard times, it lets us look forward and helps us lean into the unchanging character of God. Webster dictionary defines it as,
“a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.”
The unexpected can temporarily rob us of Hope. When our little E was born the storm of unexpected, the constant changing medical challenges and the deep unknown made hope elusive to grasp and hold onto. The unknown temporarily robbed me of dreams that are birthed from hope as I clung to minutes rather then anticipating years with my daughter.
Covid-19 itself, as well as various government responses has the propensity (at least in my part of the world) to create the same affect. We can limit life to minutes or dates unable to plan for the future. A future that cannot be anticipated makes it hard to dream, it even makes it hard to grieve losses as things swiftly change. Often I find myself reminding myself how little time has passed because the quick and drastic changes feel that they must have taken place over a lifetime not just a few weeks.
As the years since E’s dramatic entry to the world have passed time has illuminated the elusive hope I had thought I had lost had always been present in those dark two weeks. In retrospect hope is \what sustained and was executed through prayers of loved ones, through kindness of medical staff, through the outpouring of love and kindness from strangers, through scriptures hanging around our home and flooding our inboxes. The suddenness of change, the need for grieving losses, and no time to do so, the unexpected and the intake of large amounts of medical news for a time made it seem non existent but it had always been present because deep rooted hope (the kind rooted in God’s character) cannot be uprooted by a storm of unexpected.
So if hope feels elusive to you amidst the storms of Covid-19 my prayer is that you will find yourself intentionally strengthening your roots and knowledge of the character of God. That you will give space for emotions to catch up to the every changing events and cling to the truth that deep rooted hope is not so easy to uproot as the storm of Covid-19 may tempt us to believe.