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When our daughter was barely a teenager she came down with a rare life-threatening disease. That was a terrible time for us. We spent many months in and out of Children's Hospital in Seattle. We longed for a word from God that her life would be spared. But God was silent. That is not quite true. That was a very hot time of God speaking to us, showing us things in Scripture, and ministering to our lives. But we were desperate for a word of assurance about our daughter's condition. And about that, God seemed to be silent.

We were a full year into the ordeal when God gave us Scripture to cling to. My wife came home one night from a teachers’ meeting at church saying, “I have a word from God!”

The lady leading the meeting had shared Romans 12:12 with her. She opened her Bible and read it to me.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We both agreed that God was speaking to us, but we were not exactly sure how it applied. We had no questions about being faithful in prayer. Even when we were discouraged we prayed. And we had many friends and family members praying with us. People we didn't even know were praying for us and for our daughter.

And we knew to be patient in the affliction. But we welcomed this reminder. It would have been much easier for us to endure our own suffering than it was for us to deal with our daughter's.

But what did it mean to be joyful in hope? Our hopes always seemed to be mixed. We would have good news one day that would be crushed the next. But we began hunting for hope. And we were committed to rejoice right away.

One of our daughter's symptoms was huge ugly ulcers on her knees and elbows. Even the doctors winced when they examined them. My wife had to dress them every day. One day a dermatologist came by her hospital room and my wife said, “I think that ulcer on her right elbow might have been a little smaller today. The doctor talked with us for a few minutes and then drew a small ruler from her pocket. Giving it to my wife she said, “Why don't you start measuring it when you replace the tegaderm?”

My wife began measuring the the ulcer every morning as she redressed the ulcers. Several days later she measured and found the diameter of the ulcer had reduced by a milometer. We celebrated! And we rejoiced one millimeter at a time until her ulcers had healed completely.

Now there is an important facet of Hope that I need to point out here. We sometimes see our hope in tiny sparks in the midst of the darkness. We could not have rejoiced in tiny hope if we did not, somewhere in the back of our minds, have a greater and deeper hope. But rejoicing in those tiny sparks sustained us, and kept our eyes on God and the ultimate hope promised to us.



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