They told me that being a hope-filled person was important to my recovery.
I assured them I was. Why not? My life had worked out pretty well so far.
But that was based on previous good outcomes. Would I still be positive if the cancer had spread, if what I had desperately prayed for was not on God’s to-do list?
Then I met the night nurse. She had bright red hair and a round cherubic face, highlighted with the slightest, shyest smile.
She was kind and comforting, but I worried she was far too young.
Trying to check her nursing bona fides, I learned bits and pieces of an extraordinary life.
She told me that she was working three 12-hour shifts that week, and had picked up a couple more. She said she always worked extra shifts.
I joked that it didn’t leave much time for a social life. She said it didn’t matter. She didn’t have much of one.
She is the oldest of five children still living at home. Both of her parents are disabled. Two of her siblings are autistic, and one has a learning disability.
At 22, she is the primary breadwinner and the primary caregiver of her family.
Overwhelmed by this revelation, I lamely uttered, “That must be really difficult.” She admitted that, at times, it was. Then she added, “You know, I am very grateful. The Lord has put me in a good place. I get to do the work I love, and I get to care for the people I love.”
I don’t know whether this was formed through years of prayer, or blindly stumbled upon by simply doing the right thing. But this young woman was filled with the very hope I questioned in myself.
It had nothing to do with good things happening. It had everything to do with tapping into some divine source deep inside and living it in trust and love.
At the end of the book of Habakkuk, the prophet describes the bareness around him. The crops have failed. There are no sheep in the pen, no cattle in the stalls.
But somehow, hope remains on his lips: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet swift as those of deer and enables me to tread upon the heights.” (3:18-19)
That’s the hope I long for. That’s the hope she lives.