Things couldn’t get any worse, right? (chuckle)
On Saturday, I woke up with a urinary tract infection, but I was pretty zen about it. Usually, the post-traumatic stress of having had a severe infection twenty years ago, all alone in a foreign country and not knowing what to do, sends me straight for the anti-anxiety medicine. But this time Matthieu was home, and I didn’t have to teach since it was holiday, and I didn’t panic.
So we all went to SOS Médecins, which is a half-hour away, and a step up from the ER because you can get an appointment and be seen almost straight away. And it turns out that, in addition to the UTI, I have walking pneumonia (or I think it is – une bronchite pneumonaire?). Which explains at least some of the heaviness I’ve been feeling lately – my lungs are completely blocked.
So antibiotics and two inhalers later, we came home and I collapsed gratefully in bed with a great excuse to stay there. It’s not such a bad thing to be physically sick so that you can deal with some of the emotional sick.
And if only it ended there.
A few months ago, I heard strange splashing sounds coming from the downstairs toilet (which is underground since we have a split-level house). I went to look, but just saw the water moving, with some splashes on the seat. A day or two later, I heard it again and, when I ran to look, thought I saw, what looked like … eels? Are there water snakes coming up from the sewer? That’s what I thought, and except for being a little freaked out, pretty much flushed the toilet and dismissed it. And there had been nothing to even recall the incident to mind ever since.
Until Saturday. When we got home from the doctor, I heard the splashing sound again so I went to investigate. And this time I saw the black eel again. Except that this time it was attached to a little furry butt. And I knew exactly what it was. I flushed.
An hour later I heard it again, and was privy to a view of the entire creature … if you haven’t guessed it by now, that creature was a rat. He swam up from the sewer and was panting in our toilet bowl (a small one, looking much cuter than he had any right to be). When he saw me, he dove back down and was helped back to the sewer by another flush. So we are using just the toilet upstairs at the moment.
It was so ridiculous it made me laugh. Like, really? A rat in our toilet? When I have a UTI?!
But by Monday I had stopped thinking anything was funny because Hunter nipped William on the arm again. I’m sure he was dominating him and not trying to harm him (he didn’t pierce the skin). But all the angst about the dog came rushing back – the advice we had been getting to put him to sleep or get rid of him. I cried all morning. And with being sick, the rat, the kids acting up because they are worried about me, the peripheral worries (some are too personal to write here – or they don’t involve me – but they make the burden heavier), I felt just about crushed.
God is funny sometimes. We were not able to get an appointment with the vet until Friday when the one who knows Hunter will be back from vacation. We will let ourselves be guided by her wisdom. But that’s five days to settle back into routine with our dog. Five days where the kids dry their tears and continue playing with him and petting him as if nothing is going to happen. Why these five days?
I can’t help but give in to the hope that maybe something good will happen that won’t end in Hunter being put to sleep, or sent to a box at the SPA. And, I can’t help but hope that, despite feeling physically lousy, I will be able to pull off a delicious anniversary dinner for my cherished husband (14 years today!). I can’t help but hope that the peripheral thing I fear will turn out okay. I can’t help but hope that, not only will we get out of this financial whirlpool, but that we’ll have enough to give a good amount to a missions collection that will be taken up at the end of November. Because how great is it to be able to give!
Do you think that money just falls from the sky, Jennie?
I do! I do! It’s all God’s anyways. I can’t help but hope that, like a loving Father, he will bring things about in good time.
There is a Proverb that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (13:12) This past week, my hope has been deferred, and that is a singularly crushing, sickening feeling. Do you know what I mean?
But sometimes that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to hope. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all,” says Romans 8:24. “Who hopes for what they already have?“
Hope is not supposed to be something tangible that we can get our hands on. I’m not hoping for a husband when I was already given one fourteen years ago. No, we hope for what we don’t have. So, why would a loving Father allow such a thing as deferred hope?
“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 2b-5a)
God – who is so anxious to bless us – allows our deferred hope because each time our desire is thwarted, we learn to persevere through it. And when we persevere through it, we accept more graciously – more faithfully – when things don’t happen the way we expect them to. And somehow, this building of character brings about that hope we so desire.
And God promises that, in our hope, we will not be put to shame.
I have no doubt that my dogged determination to have faith despite the disappointments comes from years of such character-building where my hope was sharply deferred. And (as I reassured my mom, who was worried after my last post) that longed-for healing begins when we voice the depth of the disappointment.
One of my favourite scriptures … or maybe not favourite, but one that impresses me, is Psalm 88, which ends with “You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.” King Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and wept because he was told he would die. Elijah collapsed on the mountain, weary because he had been zealous for God and everyone was trying to kill him because of it. Jesus wept with loud cries and tears – not just before his death, but during his life – because of the pain and grief that accompanies human existence. These examples would not be in the Bible if God did not approve of us voicing our despair.
But there’s something stubborn about hope – a hope that will be heard. A light that refuses to be snuffed out. A new day where the air smells good and the tummy rumbles with hunger. A shrugging of the shoulders, and a “yes, things look bleak, but I can’t believe You would bring me this far just to leave me.”
Stubborn, stubborn hope.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Ro 12:12)