“I hope my parents will let me go to the lake with my friends.”
“I hope I get an A in math.”
“I hope Tommy asks me out.”
My teenage definition of “hope” was mere desire without any assurance.
I’ve grown up. A lot. In fact, I think it fair to say that I only truly began to fully understand the true meaning of hope over these past two years. Let me explain.
My life changed on a beautiful, sunny, autumn day. A Wednesday. After lunch, my husband, Tom set out on his bicycle ride. He rode fifteen to twenty-two miles every day for exercise. That day he rode less than a mile. His front tire slid off of the pavement and threw him into a tree. Yes, he was wearing a helmet. In fact, when I arrived at the scene, I could only see scratches on his left arm from the tree. But he was having difficulty breathing. The paramedics rushed him to the hospital. I won’t go into all of the details here, only to say the internal bleeding was extensive. The loss of blood sent him into cardiac arrest.
Two hours. Exactly two hours from the moment I received the phone call until they told me there was nothing more they could do. They stopped CPR. They turned off the machines. They walked in silence around me as I held onto the lifeless body of my precious husband. They quietly cleaned up the area and dismantled the life saving equipment. It hadn’t worked anyway.
My daughters gathered around me. My mother cared for me. Family and friends brought food and comfort. We planned the service. How? I don’t know. For months I lived in a fog. A hope-filled fog.
I came to understand that hope isn’t wishful thinking. Hope is assurance. It is peace. Hope is confidence and trust. Confidence that I will indeed see Tom again and total trust in God. I trust He has my back. In fact I have substantial evidence God is looking out for me at every turn.
Our days are numbered. October 29, 2014 was the day Tom was to leave this earth. The day he was to meet Jesus face-to-face. How cool is that? When I look back at the months…no, when I look back at the years leading up to that date I can see God’s fingerprints all over our lives. The decisions we made, praying all the while for God’s will. The conversations we had and the connections with people even in that last week were all part of the plan. All part of the evidence that God is in control and knows what is going on and what is to come.
Oh, so you want examples? Here are a couple. We put our house on the market. Three months before Tom died he replaced the flooring in our bedroom. He asked me what I wanted.
“If I we were staying here,” I told him, “I would want laminate floors because of my asthma.”
“We’re not staying, so what color carpet do you want?” he asked.
The next week, while I was out of town visiting one of our daughters, Tom installed laminate floors. My oldest daughter asked him about it.
“Well, if for some reason your mother winds up staying here, I want her to be able to breathe,” he said.
Two days before Tom died he gave me the user names and passwords to all of our accounts. It was unusual. “You should have these anyway.”
I can offer you at least a dozen decisions we made the week Tom died that point to God leading us to that day in October. I can share at least a dozen experiences since that day that could only happen with God’s intervention.
I hold these as evidence that God loves us so deeply He prepares the way for us. If we listen. If we trust. If we hold steadfast in our hope. Hope is assurance. And in assurance I find peace and joy.
Yes, I miss my husband like crazy. But I live with this strange and powerful peace; a comfort. I am confident this is part of a plan bigger than me.
And I am not alone. I read about Job’s loss; his suffering. He has that assurance we call hope. I read Paul’s letters in the New Testament and see that same assurance that is beyond our human understanding.
I read God’s words in Hebrews 6: 19. Hope is my anchor.
Did my parents let me go to the lake with my friends? It was long ago. I can’t say.
Did I get an “A” in math? I don’t remember.
Did Tommy ask me out? Oh, yes. I met him when I was sixteen, started dating him when I was seventeen, and married him when I was eighteen. We were married for forty-three years. I now know it was part of the plan.
About Rebecca Waters
Rebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in two stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books, articles in Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Breathing on Her Own is Rebecca’s first novel. As a published author, she shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. To learn more about Rebecca or to read A Novel Creation, visit her website at http://www.WatersWords.com
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