What is hope? What does it look like for you?
Is it a moving piece of music? Is it a blade of grass pushing up through cement? Is it a breathtaking sunrise? Is it a man sacrificing his life for another?
This weekend, I have gotten a good reminder of hope. It is not by any means all-encompassing. After all, as I hinted a second ago, hope can take different forms at different times for different people. Nonetheless, here is my story of hope–the funniest part is it’s not even my story, but my best friend’s.
1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD :
“O LORD, save me!”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
This Psalm is the best Scripture I can use to describe what has happened in the last week. I know I mentioned in my last entry that my best friend had to go to the hospital. I’ll explain this a bit more. She has Chron’s disease and has had it since childhood. Stress tends to cause flare ups, which have gotten worse and worse as time goes on. Last Tuesday, she started throwing up and couldn’t stop. She somewhat reluctantly went to the hospital, and it’s a good thing she did.
Her intestines were blocked, which is why she was throwing up. The food she had eaten had nowhere to go, so it basically reverse digested and came out the other way. The docs were giving her Demorral (sp?) and other similar medicines, but nothing was helping. She was in incredible pain, and throwing up for about 24 hours straight. Her situation was not looking good. She had a feeding tube down her throat and a tube in her nose. She had tubes sewn into her hand so she could get medicine. Her intestines were so bad they couldn’t even hold normal stomach fluid (she had a stomach pump on, too). She went 5 days without eating–the doctors were literally pumping lipids and proteins into her. The medicine she was on burns your veins; to de-concentrate it a bit, the docs routed this medicine through her heart, where it could be diluted a bit before it went out to the rest of her. She was in an oxygen bubble. She was on both unlimited morphine and for awhile on medicine stronger than morphine because the morphine wasn’t working. She was on steroids as well as tons of other meds (I think about 250 mg of meds– which kind I forget, but she had told me that was an insane amount of medicine to be on). Despite all this, instead of getting better, she was actually getting worse. The doctors expected her to possibly be in the entire month of Feb. Her X-rays were looking progressively worse. Basically, her intestines had shut down completely. They were just dead weight. The doctors had resorted to an injection treatment that was a muscle stimulant. They injected this into her intestines in hopes of kickstarting them. It wasn’t working. They wanted to do surgery to remove the blocked part of her intestines, but she wasn’t well enough to handle the surgery. They were also pressing to do another injection treatment in her intestines. This treatment, however, is pretty dangerous. The longer you’ve had Chron’s, the more likely it is that this particular treatment will give you cancer. Since my friend has had it for so long, to take the treatment would be to take on cancer, too.
Then, yesterday morning, things began turning around. The doctors said it looked like her condition was starting to reverse itself. They halved her stimulant injections, and said they might not have to do the other injections at all. They let her eat some broth and jello. They took the tubes out of her throat and nose. They’re thinking she has a week left to be there. She excitedly told me this morning that by Wednesday she’ll be able to eat solid food. Her words today were: “The doctors said I’m reversing and getting well and the only explanation is God looking out for me. They said my intestines were completely dead 2 days ago.” **Edit 2/13: Now, she will be going home in 2 days.**
I have been praying and worrying about her a good bit this past week. I’m not sure if it was my prayers or if it was the prayer of someone else I explained the situation to. But whoever’s faithfulness turned the tide, I am so thankful. I needed a reminder of the power of prayer. This is truly a miracle, straight from the hand of God. I am seeing my best friend literally brought back from the brink of physical hopelessness. She is in the process of being restored physically and also spiritually and emotionally. She has a hopeful, positive outlook and is more determined than ever to be one of God’s tools to impact the world. I realize that God does not always have to save people. Sometimes the best thing we can experience is pain. Still, I’m so glad He has chosen to bless my friend in this way.
Hope looks different at different times. It could very well be that sunset, or a smile from a friend, or an inspiring story, or any other gamut of things. Still, for me, today, hope looks like this: