Finding hope during times of hopelessness

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had, and was no better, but rather grew worse. Mark 5:25-26 

A woman suffering with severe bleeding over many years. She spent all her money hoping for a cure. She saw many doctors and endured many treatments but was worse off than before. It doesn't describe her emotional state, but we can probably guess that she was desperately hopeless. Sound familiar? It couldn't be any more descriptive of today's women who suffer from endometriosis, if it had said, 

"She had pelvic pain and heavy bleeding, so she saw a multitude of specialists, maxed out her insurance and used up all of her sick time at work. The birth control pills didn’t help anymore so the doctor prescribed stronger progestins. Now she bleeds nonstop, has gained 30 pounds, is constantly fatigued, irritable and depressed. Her husband and children don't want to be around her anymore. She feels sick all the time and has lost all hope that she will ever feel normal again..." 

But then one day... she hears of a man... Could it be true? Is it possible that her situation could change? Does she dare hope? 

Reach of faith, courtesy of Shannon wirrenga, 2007, used with permission 

Reach of faith, courtesy of Shannon wirrenga, 2007, used with permission 

When she heard about Jesus, she came behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well." Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out of him, turned in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?".... And he looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:27-30, 32-34 

Imagine if Jesus had looked into your eyes and had praised you for your faith. She must have been positively beaming! Jesus did heal her physically, but before that happened, he gave her an even greater gift - the gift of hope. It was hope that stirred her from her home and prompted her to seek out the Great Physician. It is hope that keeps us going and keeps us from giving up or giving in to despair. She could have stayed home that day... 

"I've been this way for twelve years. I've tried every remedy, every treatment. It's no use. I'll never get better. I shouldn't even waste my time. I am tired of getting my hopes up, only to be disappointed again. Even if he can heal me, he probably won't. Why should he? I am nobody..." 

But Jesus did heal her and he did so for a few reasons. The Bible says that he healed her in response to her faith in him which allowed her to recognize his ability to provide the cure for her ailment. He may have also healed her to demonstrate to those in the crowd God's compassion and grace. But perhaps it was also for our benefit, so that 2000 years later we could see how her faith in Christ changed her life and not only healed her body but her heart as well. 

God has many names in the Bible, Healer being only one of them. He can and does heal us today but does so on his timetable. In the meantime, he is also Comforter, Sustainer, and Redeemer..... 

There is a great song by Nichole Nordeman called Gratitude, where she describes that while we pray for things of comfort, God may allow instead, situations of discomfort. It is during difficult times that we learn how to reach out to him, rely on him and ultimately to trust in him. Then against our human nature, we can be grateful for both the good and the not so good. God is not the author of evil, but he does use bad situations to bring about good in our lives by reminding us that there is more going on than we can see. He uses every hardship we face to draw us to himself. 

There were many days over the course of this "adventure," that we felt just like the woman with the issue of blood, desperately seeking answers. Although we have strong faith in God, and in his ultimate purpose in every situation, some days were downright hard! We spent many hours praying, crying, fearing, despairing.... and even a few times angry at God for allowing us to go through this. Gratefully, he has more patience with us than we do with him! 

At a Women of Faith conference, we listened to speaker Sheila Walsh describe her struggle with clinical depression. She spoke of her occasional frustration with the reality of having to take daily medication. She said that she would get impatient with God, pleading, Lord, I'm tired of this! I don't want to take these pills anymore. You could heal me in an instant. Why can't you just heal me, so I don't have to deal with this anymore?" 

We looked at one another. Yes, we've had that conversation with God! However, just like with Sheila, he guided us through a series of treatments that eventually did lead to our recoveries. Did that mean that every day of the struggle with CPT was a piece of cake? No, some days were filled with frustration and worry. But that is where faith comes in and walking with God, trusting in his wisdom and in his provision from day to day.

If you are a CPT patient, we wrote Held by God with you in mind. It details the struggles we faced, and how we held onto hope during a time of hopelessness. It is our prayer that Held by God will minister to you and help you to see the big picture. God sees you, he knows you, and he loves you.   

Perhaps the idea of faith is foreign to you. Pastor Greg Laurie explains what faith in Christ means, in simple and straightforward terms. Follow the link to learn more. 

"...Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."  Revelation 22:17